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India’s tourism industry is gaining new heights with the government focusing on flourishing what it needs to attract tourists and the middle-class taking advantage of its spending power. But infrastructure is what could dip the tourism, says a senior travel executive

Deep Kalra, founder and chairman/group CEO of Indian travel company MakeMyTrip, addressed this topic at the recent India Digital Summit held in New Delhi.

“The notion of travel has changed in India,” he said. “It’s now about enjoying yourself, spending all your money on it, and of course, taking tons of pictures and sharing them with your friends is an accepted way to show-off.”

The result? The boost in the tourism sector, that has consistently grown faster than GDP as a whole over the past few years. Last week, the Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism reported that tourism was worth US$234bn in 2018 – a 19% year-on-year increase – with the bulk of that (87%) coming from domestic tourists.

“We are in a really blessed place right now,” said Kalra. “I don’t think we need to do much to grow.” But there is a lot that can be done to channel that growth, he suggested, for both domestic and overseas tourists.

“Because we have a shortage of rooms, hotel prices in India are pretty high, and that’s the reason so many people end up traveling overseas,” he argued. In-bound tourists, on the other hand, tend to be “bipolar” in that they either stay in five-star hotels or are backpackers.

More airports are required, he added, while the railway system needs an overhaul with new tracks and faster and better trains.

The recent Interim Union Budget offers some encouragement in this regard, with Rs 1448 crore earmarked for tourism infrastructure development.

“Allocation of these funds towards the improvement of railway networks, roads, and tourist destinations will help increase the economy driven by tourism,” Aloke Bajpai, CEO, and co-founder of travel website ixigo, told Travel Daily.

Steps being taken to implement public wifi in railway stations across the country “creates immense opportunities for players like us”, he added.

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Source - Warc
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