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Incredible India campaign, smart visas absolutely critical for inbound tourism growth, says Julia Simpson, WTTC president

Smart visas are critical for India to bring in more international tourists along with a focus on destination marketing campaigns such as Incredible India, said Julia Simpson, president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, during a G20 event being held in Goa.

Simpson said visa backlogs pose a significant obstacle, with excessive waiting times ranging from 200 days to a year for certain destinations. “Paper visas should be a thing of the past. India is moving quickly in the e-visas space but it can move faster towards smart QR coded visas like Dubai. Also, destination marketing campaigns (like Incredible India) are absolutely critical to any country which looks to get more visitors. It is a proven fact that countries are competing with each other and those that have good destination marketing campaigns, do better than others,” said Simpson.

India’s budget for overseas promotion activities like Incredible India has been slashed by more than half to INR 167 crore this year from INR 525 crore two years ago. Meanwhile, the country has set a target of bringing in 25 million tourists by 2030.

Simpson said that the travel and tourism industry at present is expected to contribute INR 16.5 trillion to the Indian economy this year, about 3.5% below its 2019 figures. The sector will create over 1.6 million more jobs this year, recovering almost all the jobs lost due to the pandemic to reach 39 million. This means, about one in 13 workers in India will be in travel and tourism sector. International visitors are expected to spend INR 2 trillion here, with domestic visitor spend forecast to reach more than INR 12.6 trillion.

Last year, the sector’s contribution to GDP grew almost 90% to reach more than $15.6 trillion, representing 5.9% of the economy, edging closer to the 2019 high of 7%. It created 14.6 million more jobs in 2022 and reached 37.2 million jobs nationally. The research was carried out along with Oxford Economics with information sourced from UNWTO, Oxford Economics and other sources.

WTTC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO) at the G20 ministerial meeting. The idea is to focus on advancing public-private sector cooperation at the global level, promoting job creation, talent development and business opportunities around the world.

The travel and tourism business was worth $10 trillion globally in 2019. At the end of this year, it will be about $9.3 trillion after pandemic battered the industry, and the world reopening in stages and China, accounting for 15% of all travel and tourism spending, opening the last. (Source The Mint)

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