Trends of tourism industry

Tourism, whatever its scale or nature, has become an undeniable fact of modern life. It is a firmly established and significant factor of economic development throughout the world. In view of its social character, the tourism phenomenon is constantly evolving. As a result of both higher standards of living and the increased leisure time of the working classes, tourist activity shows an upward trend. Its positive effects are the creation of jobs and income, promotion of intercultural relations and mutual understanding, but with unfortunate consequences of ever-increasing traffic, over-exploitation of natural resources and generally inappropriate behaviour of the tourists. Due to these negative side-effects, tourism is endangering the sole grounds for its existence. An increasing number of tourists are complaining about the nuisance caused by the density of traffic, polluted beaches and landscapes that have been either disfigured or on which too many buildings have been erected.

Today, most people involved in tourism have realized that a change in attitude is long overdue. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. If an activity is sustainable, theoretically it can continue forever.

Tourism has emerged as the largest export industry in the world and India has shared in this prosperity. Foreign exchange earnings during the year 2005 were Rs. 25,172 crores as against Rs.21, 828 crore in 2004.7 Tourism is the third largest foreign exchange earner in the country next to Gems & Jewellery and Textiles and Garments. If one were to ignore its negligible import content, tourism would rank even higher than the other two in terms of net foreign exchange earnings.

Tourism is a powerful economic force providing employment, foreign exchange, income and tax revenue. The tourism market reflects the demands of consumers for a very wide range of travel and hospitality products, and it is widely claimed that this total market is now being serviced by the world's largest industry. Players in this industry are increasingly operating in a global environment, where people, places and countries are increasingly interdependent. Countries once considered inaccessible to Western tourists because of geographical, cultural and political barriers are now not only becoming accessible - their very remoteness makes them an attractive choice for travel today. An example is Tibet, one of the most impoverished parts of the world, where the opening of a new Chinese railway in 2006 across the Himalayas is expected to double tourist revenue, with more than a million people a year predicted to use the line.

Tourism is today one of the most internationalized sectors of the world economy. The world tourism market has been extended a lot, adding considerably to the potential for further growth and at the same time bringing about greater competition between tourism countries.

Global Status and Trends of Tourism Industry:

The travel and tourism sector creates more jobs per million rupees of investment than any other sector of the economy and is capable of providing employment to a wide spectrum of job seekers from the unskilled to the specialised, even in the remote parts of the country. Although global recession and the September 11, 2001, events are estimated to have resulted in a temporary decline in travel and tourism demand in 2001-02, international and domestic tourism is expected to boom over the next two decades. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates a 4.5 per cent per annum increase in the total amount of travel and tourism economic activity between 2002 and 2012. This is largely attributed to a rise in global wealth, liberalisation of international airspace, cheaper flights and the use of the Internet as a travel tool. The earnings from tourism have made it one of the world's largest industries and the fastest growing sectors of global trade accounting for 10.7 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), 12.8 per cent of global exports, 8.2 per cent of global employment (or one in every 12.2 jobs), and 9.4 per cent of global capital investment. Tourism in the least developed countries is growing faster than the world average, holding the promise of prosperity for many.

International tourist arrivals worldwide reached 698 million in 2000, generating $ 595 billion revenues. International tourism flows are expected to reach 1.5 billion by 2020 and revenue estimated to cross $ 2000 billion.

Global Market Trends

Consumer trends in tourism are gradually changing and require an appropriate response in terms of both policy formulation and investment. Current market trends indicate that:

  • Long haul travel will grow faster than intra-regional travel. A growth of 24 per cent is expected by 2020.
  • People with less time for leisure are likely to take more frequent but shorter trips nearer home, opening up opportunities for 'neighbouring country' tourism.
  • The experienced traveller wants authentic, off-the-beaten-track vacations in remote and less well-known places as against luxurious five-star vacations, leading to an interest in rural and ethnic tourism.
  • The increase in the number of people with lots of money but little leisure time has resulted in a growing emphasis on rest and relaxation, and 'wellness' and 'health' holidays.

Source: Cygnus Report

India has been a spiritual and cultural destination for tourists from all over the globe from time immemorial. Its rich cultural diversity, religions, languages, magnificent monuments, its sheer size and people have been a source of fascination for outsiders and insiders alike. This can be estimated from the fact that since 1988 the arrival of foreign tourists in India has gone up steadily from 1.6 million to nearly 2.4 million in 1997. As many as 162 million domestic tourists undertook travel within the country in 1997 and out of these 150 million were pilgrim tourists. According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) South Asia would receive 6 million tourists in 2000 AD of which India's share will be half. Such is the growth potential of tourism sector in the country.

Tourism industry in India is on a great boom at the moment India has become a major global tourist destination and Indian tourism industry is exploiting this potential to the hilt. Travel and tourism industry is the second highest foreign exchange earner for India, and the government has given travel & tourism organizations export house status.

Tourism in India has received a major boost in the past decade since the Indian Government realized the great potential of tourism of India during vacations. Tourism of India during vacations has grown by leaps and bounds with a great influx of tourists from throughout the world who have been irresistibly attractive to the travellers.

India has the right tourism potential and attractions to captivate all types of tourists whether it is adventurous tour, cultural exploration, pilgrimages, visit to the beautiful beaches or to the scenic mountain resorts, Tourism of India has it all for you. Travel through Indian states and cities bring to light, the cultural and the geographical richness of India. We provide you a glimpse to the richness of tourism in India with information on all the major tourist destinations of India and tourism services of India that will take care of all your problems while you are in India.

Tourism is an industry that operates on a massively broad scale: it embraces activities ranging from the smallest sea-side hotel; to airlines, multi-national hotel chains and major international tour operators. Originally, non-traditional industries such as tourism emerged as a solution to strike a balance between ecology and industry. The tourism industry is now one of the largest sectors earning foreign exchange for the exchequer. In the face of such benefits, many countries have started assigning due weight age to the tourism industry in their national development agenda. Originally, non-traditional industries such as tourism emerged as a solution to strike a balance between ecology and industry.

Firstly, the tremendous growth of Indian economy has resulted in more disposable income in the hands of middle class, thereby prompting increasingly large number of people to spend money on vacations abroad or at home.

Secondly, India is a booming IT hub and more and more people are coming to India on business trips.

Thirdly, aggressive advertising campaign "Incredible India" by Tourism Ministry has played a major role in changing the image of India from that of the land of snake charmers to a hot and happening place and has sparked renewed interest among foreign travellers. Travel & tourism industry's contribution to Indian industry is immense. Tourism is one of the main foreign exchange earners and contributes to the economy indirectly through its linkages with other sectors like horticulture, agriculture, poultry, handicrafts and construction.

Tourism industry also provides employment to millions of people in India both directly and indirectly through its linkage with other sectors of the economy. According to an estimate total direct employment in the tourism sector is around 20 million. Travel & tourism industry in India is marked by considerable government presence. Each state has a tourism corporation, which runs a chain of hotels/ guest houses and operates package tours, while the central government runs the India Tourism Development Corporation.

India is the fourth largest economy, with a GDP of US$1,242.8 billion in 20081. Between 2000 and 2008, India's GDP growth rate doubled from 5.7% in 2000 to 9.3% in 2007 before tapering to a robust 7.9% in 20082. The industrial sector has predominately fuelled this growth. During 2000-07, contributions by the industrial sector to India's total value-added increased from 26.2% in 2000 to 29.4% in 20073. According to IHS Global Insight, India's GDP is expected to continue along a robust growth path, albeit slower than growth witnessed in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012, India's real GDP growth will range between 6.5% and 8.2%. During the same period, India's nominal GDP growth will range from 9.3% in 2008 to 13.5% in 2012, with a negative growth rate of 1.7% in 2009.

Source: IHS Global Insight

This recent economic growth is placing increasing strains on India's physical infrastructure, not only from population growth and expanding economic activities, but also structural changes in the economy. India's economy reflects a consistent decline of primary sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, and fishing, as well as rising importance of non-primary sectors, such as services and manufacturing. This shift away from primary to non-primary sectors heightens the demand for infrastructure investment. This heightened demand is exacerbated by the fact that India had a substantial infrastructure deficit in terms of capacity and efficiency of delivery prior to recent structural changes. Additionally, according to IHS Global Insight estimates, the Indian service sector has witnessed a tremendous growth, contributing about 69% to overall GDP during 2003-07. The growth in tourism has created demand for recreational construction such as hotels and resorts. India's medical tourism is expected to grow from US$350 million (at current prices) in 2006 to US$2 billion in 2012 - 17.5% growth. Similarly, the growth in information technology and outsourcing has created strong demand for office space.

Source: IHS Global Insight

Total investment in India's infrastructure was estimated at approximately 5% of GDP in 2006- 07. Here, infrastructure is defined to include electricity (including non-conventional energy), telecommunications, roads and bridges, railways (including mass rapid-transport system— MRTS), ports, airports, irrigation (including watershed development), water supply and sanitation, storage, and gas-distribution sectors. To achieve a target GDP growth rate of 9% set by the Planning Commission, gross capital formation (GCF) in infrastructure should rise to 9% of GDP by the end of 2012. This equates to an increase of GCF from 2,598 billion rupees in 2007- 08 to 5,740 billion rupees in 2011-124. If achieved, the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12) will result in an aggregate GCF of 20,115 billion rupees (US$447 billion at an exchange rate of 45 rupees/U.S. dollar). It should be noted that India's projection of their economic growth exceeds IHS Global Insight's projections for India's GDP. As a result, India's projected infrastructure investment levels may also be optimistic.

Last five year history of Indian Tourism Industry:

Jan 8, 2004 - With the travel industry going great guns, religious sojourns seem to be the latest flavour and according to tour operators like Thomas Cook, Coxs & Kings, Sita (Kuoni) India, this season has witnessed a number of inquires for specific religious tours from overseas traveller, foreign tourists spent around US$ 15.4 billion during their trips to India. Being a country with tremendous diversity, India has a lot to offer in terms of tourism and related activities.

Jan 10, 2005 - The tsunami tragedy, which has destroy the tourism activity of countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives, will not lead to a crisis for Indian tourism, according to the industry. Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators

Jun 28, 2006 - A 2-day meet on Overseas Marketing of Indian tourism will begin tomorrow at New Delhi under the aegis of Ministry of Tourism. Apart from Heads of Overseas offices of India Tourism, various stakeholders in travel industry will participate in the 2-day Meet and will have a review of Tourism

Feb 2, 2007 - "These numbers also include the non-resident Indians that make more than one trip to India every year. That should not be counted as growth in tourism. We are way behind other countries. A small place like Macao registered 21.99 million tourist arrivals in 2006,"

Nov 10, 2008 - Global tourism industry has witnessed a notable shift towards emerging markets including India, India was featured in six segments such as-- authenticity, history, art and culture, value for money, most impressive last year.

Tourism statistics:

Recent statistics have revealed that during the first quarter of 2008, the performance of the tourism industry has been very encouraging which has registered a 19% increase in foreign tourist arrivals. India Tourism office at Tokyo won two International Awards in Tour Expo held at Daegu in Korea for excellent tourism promotion. Indian Pavilion won the Best Booth Design Award as well as Best Folklore Performance Award competing with major players in tourism such as China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Canada.

  • The tourism industry as a whole is presently estimated to earn over US$ 3.5 trillion worldwide.
  • The industry creates a job every 2.4 seconds with every one of those direct jobs creating another 11 indirect ones.
  • Spending on tourism amounts to 5%-10% of total consumer, spending in a year worldwide.
  • India's share of the total market is a pittance at 0.51%. The no tourist countries like Malaysia and Indonesia get much more tourists than India.
  • However, the average duration of stay of foreign tourist in India is one of the highest in the world. On an average, it exceeds 27 days in the case of non-package tourists and is 14 days in the case of package tourists.
  • Tourism has the distinction of being the third largest export industry after gems and jewellery and readymade garments in India.
  • The Tourism industry's foreign exchange earnings in India are around $3.2 billion. Tourism is the highest foreign exchange earner if we consider the fact that net value addition in Gems and jewellery is less than 30 % whereas, in tourism it is more than 90 %.

AYURVEDA:

India has a rich heritage in the areas of traditional and natural medicines. The earliest mention of Indian medical practices can be found in the Vedas and Samhitas of Charaka, Bhela and Shusruta. A systematic and scientific approach was adopted by the sages of the time leading to the development of a system that is relevant even today. India is the land of Ayurveda. It believes in removing the cause of illness and not just curing the disease itself. It is based on herbals and herbal components without having side effects.

Ayurveda considers that the base of life lies in the five primary elements; ether (space), air, fire, water and earth. And the individual is made up of a unique proportion of the five elements in unique combinations to form three doshas (vata, pita and kapha). When any of these doshas become accute, a person falls ill. Ayurveda recommends a special life style and nutritional guidelines supplemented with herbal medicines. If toxins are abundant, then a cleaning process known as Panchkarma is recommended to eliminate those unwanted toxins and revitalize both mind and body. Ayurveda offers treatments for ailments such as arthritis, paralysis, obesity, sinusitis, migraine, premature aging and general health care. Kerala is a world tourist destination and part of the reasons lies with the well- known stress-releasing therapies of famed Ayurvedic research centres. The climate along with the blessing of nature has turned Kerala into the ideal place for ayurvedic, curative and rejuvenating treatments.

YOGA

If Ayurveda is the science of body, yoga is the science of the mind. Practiced together they can go a long way in making an individual fit. The word yoga means to join together. The ultimate aim of yoga is to unite the human soul with the universal spirit. Yoga was developed 5000 years ago and the base of yoga is described in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.

This describes eight stages of yoga. These are Yam (universal moral commands), Niyam (self purification), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathing control), Prathyahara (withdrawal of mind from external objects), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (state of super consciousness). To get the benefits of yoga, one has to practice Asana, Pranayama and Yoganidra. With the regular practice of asanas one can 327 control cholesterol level, reduce weight, normalize blood pressure and improve cardiac performance. Pranayama helps to release tensions, develop relaxed state of mind and Yoganidra is a form of meditation that relaxes both physiological and psychological systems. Today, yoga has become popular in India and abroad and in a number of places including urban and rural areas yoga is taught and practiced.

SPA TREATMENT

Most of the other parts of the world have their own therapies and treatment that are no doubt effective in restoring wellness and beauty. New kinds of health tours that are gaining popularity in India are spa tours. Spas offer the unique advantages of taking the best from the west and the east combining them with the indigenous system and offering best of the two worlds. In hydropathy, Swedish massages work with the Javanese Mandy, lulur, aromatherapy, reflexology and traditional ayurveda procedures to help keep the tourist healthy and enhance beauty. Combining these therapies with meditation, yoga and pranayama make the spa experience in India a new destination for medical tourism. The spas are very useful for controlling blood pressure, insomnia, cure tension, depression, paralysis and number of other deadly diseases.

Ananda Resort in Rishikesh, Angsana Resort, Golden Palm Spa and Ayurgram in Bangalore offer ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga and meditation packages. (Gaur Kanchilal) Allopathy India has made rapid strides in advanced health care systems, which provides worldclass allopathic treatment. This has become possible because of the emergence of the private sector in a big way in this field. More and more foreign tourists are realizing that India is an ideal place for stopover treatment. Indian Multi-specialty hospitals are providing worldclass treatment at an amazingly economical cost as compared to the west. Quality services and low price factor primarily go in favour of India. The cardio care, bone marrow transplantation, dialysis, kidney transplant, neuron-surgery, joint replacement surgery, urology, osteoporosis and numerous diseases are treated at Indian hospitals with full professional expertise. Apollo hospital group, Escorts in Delhi, Jason Hospital, Global Hospital, and Max Health Care are catering to medical care for international patients in the areas of diagnostic, disease management, preventive health care and incisive surgeries.

The tourism department has devised websites in order to provide information. Many Ayurveda health resorts that are owned and rum by traditional Ayurveda Institutes have come up. Ayurgram is a novel concept that not only offers heritage accommodation but also offers a whole range of Ayurvedic treatments and rejuvenating packages. Similarly hotels have also included these types of packages in their holidays. Some of the tour operators have worked out all-inclusive medical treatment package that include treatment, accommodation, food, airport transfers, post operation recuperative holidays, along with a host of other facilities. 328 This in fact shows our product offers true value for money for service. Many world-class state-of-the-art furnishing and equipment are being added to our Ayurveda Resorts to welcome international guests. Along with these hospitals there are many centers which offer not just physical but emotional and spiritual healing to patients. With all these India is going to be one of the leading medical health care destinations in the near future.

All types of tourism in India have registered phenomenal growth in the last decade ever since the Indian government decided to boost revenues from the tourism sector by projecting India as the ultimate tourist spot. The reason why India has been doing well in all types of tourism in India is only because it has always been known for its hospitality, uniqueness, and charm - attributes that have been attracting foreign travellers to India in hordes. Now we will see the different types of tourism in India.

HERITAGE TOURISM

India has always been famous for its rich heritage and ancient culture. India's glorious past and cultural diversity make a potent blend which attracts millions of tourists each year to its heritage tourist attractions. India's rich heritage is amply reflected in the various temples, palaces, monuments, and forts that can be found everywhere in the country

The most popular heritage tourism destinations in India are:

  • Taj Mahal in Agra
  • Mandawa castle in Rajasthan
  • Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu
  • Madurai in Tamil Nadu
  • Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh
  • Delhi, the Indian capital

ECOTOURISM

Eco tourism entails travelling to places that are renowned for their natural beauty and social culture, while making sure not to damage the ecological balance. Eco-tourists have been thronging India in large numbers for it has a rich source of flora and fauna. A great number of endangered and rare species are also to be found in the various national parks in India.

The major national parks in India for ecotourism are:

  • Corbett National Park in Uttar Pradesh
  • Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh
  • Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh
  • Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat
  • Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan\

ADVENTURE TOURISM

Adventure tourism is recently growing in India. Tourists prefer to go for trekking to places like Leach, Sikkim and Himalaya. Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir are popular for the skiing facilities they offer. Whitewater rafting is also catching on in India and tourists flock to places such as Uttranchal, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh for this adrenalin-packed activity.

CRUISE TOURISM:

The Cruise Shipping Policy of the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways was approved by the Government of India on 26th June, 2008.

The objectives of the policy is to make India as an attractive cruise tourism destination with the state-of-the-art infrastructural and other facilities at various parts in the country and to attract the right segment of the foreign tourists to cruise shipping in India as well as to popularize cruise shipping with Indian tourists. A meeting with the stakeholders and other beneficiaries was organized in collaboration with the FICCI on 4th September, 2008 to discuss various aspects of the policy and its implementation.

The Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned Rs. 1450 lakhs in 2008-09 to Cochin Port Trust for infrastructure development at Cochin Port to augment Cruise Tourism. Mega river cruise projects were sanctioned for Goa (Mandovi and Zuari) and Ganga Heritage Cruise.

SPIRITUAL TOURISM

Globally people are increasingly mentally disturbed and looking for solace in spiritual reading, meditation and moments of divine ecstasy. Our country has been known as the seat of spiritualism and India's cosmopolitan nature is best reflected in its pilgrim centres. Religion is the life-blood for followers of major religion and sects. Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity have lived here for centuries. The visible outpouring of religious fervour is witnessed in the architecturally lavish temples, mosques, monasteries and Churches spreads across the length and breadth of the country. India is not only known as a place rich in its culture with varied attractions but also for many places of worship, present itself as embodiments of compassion where one get peace of mind. Thus India has been respected as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists. Spiritual tourism is also termed as religious heritage tourism. It includes all the religions mentioned above; religious places associated with, emotional attachment to these centres and infrastructure facilities for the tourists. This can also be referred to as pilgrimage tourism, as clients are not looking for luxury but arduous journeys to meet the divine goal or simple life.

The essence of spiritual tourism is inner feeling through love. Love should not be rationed on the basis of caste, creed and economic status or intellectual attainment of the recipient. Religions come into existence for the purpose of regulating human life; what are common to all of them are the principles of love. Thus through religious tourism there is a sincere effort to bring better understanding among various communities, nations and thus foster global unity.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of India. Over 5000 years of religious history created wonderful temples and survived through ages all over India. The most popular spiritual tours are those that are centered on holy Ganges River. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Haridwar, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Allahabad, Varanasi. Jaganath temple at Puri, Bhubaneshwar, Konark in Orissa, Mata Vaishnodevi of Jammu and Kashmir, are some of the important pilgrim centres in north India. There are many spiritual sites in South India as well which dates back beyond the 10th century. Rameshwaram, Mahabalipuram, Madurai Meenakshi temple in Tamilnadu and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh are some pilgrim centers. Every year millions of tourists, both domestic and international, visit these places. India is special to Buddhists all over the world and India is the destination for pilgrimage because Buddhism emerged in India. The country is dotted with places that are associated with the life and times of Gutham Buddha; Lumbini-the birthplace of Buddha, Saranath where Buddha delivered his first sermon, Buddha Gaya where lord Buddha attained enlightenment and Vaishali where he delivered his last sermon and announced his nirvana. Sikhism also emerged in India.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Hemkund Sahib, and Gurunanak Devji Gurudwara at Manikaran, which is also known for its hot water springs with healing properties, the holy city of Patna Sahib and Anandpur Sahib are important for Sikhs. The Jain temples of Dilwara and Mount Abu in Rajasthan, the Gomateswara temple at Karnataka, draw thousands of Jain followers. Even small communities like the Bahais have their own Lotus Temple at Delhi. The Sultanate and Moghul empires built many historical monuments and mosques during their reign, all over the country. Red Fort, Fatehapur Sikri, Jama Masjid, TajMahal, Charminar etc., bear testimony to the blend of the Indian and Islam traditions of architecture. The followers of Islam have many mosques and shrines of Sufi Saints, like Moin-Uddin Chisti and Nizamuddin Aulia. For Christians, spiritual tours to Goa among other place like Mumbai and Kolkata are must. Among the most popular sites in Goa is the church of Our Lady of Rosary, the Rachel Seminary, and Church of Bom Jesus. In addition to pilgrim centres there are personalities like the Satya Sai Baba, Osho, Shirdhi and others. This shows that spirituality and religion in India is a serious pursuit. The State Governments concerned, charitable trusts, temple trusts have made elaborate arrangements for accommodation, transport and ritual ceremonies. These organizations are also running hospitals, educational institutes, ashrams, meditation centres which benefit local community. More than 500 religious places have been identified and efforts are being made to develop these centres by Central and State Governments with private participation.

ADVENTURE TOURISM

Youth tourism has been identified as one of the largest segments of global and domestic tourism. The young travellers are primarily experience seekers, collecting, enquiring unique experiences. Adventure and risk have a special role to play in the behaviour and attitudes of young travellers. The growing number of young travellers is being fuelled by a number of factors such as increased participation in higher education, falling level of youth unemployment, increased travel budget through parental contribution, search for an even more exciting and unique experience and cheaper long distance travel. Youth and adventure tourism appears to have considerable growth potential. The rising income in some major potential source markets such as the Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, combined with the lower travel cost, growing student populations around the world particularly in developing countries, has fuelled the demand. India: a heaven for adventure tourism India has been an attraction for travellers from all over the world. Though in the field of international tourism, the segment of adventure tourism in India is getting only a fraction of such traffic. The trend has been showing an increased movement year after year with the development of facilities and greater awareness about adventure tourism options.

Indian tourism offers both international and domestic adventurers a wide choice of adventures. Water sports, elephant safari, skiing, yachting, hail-skiing, gliding, sailing, tribal tours, orchid tours, scaling the high peaks of Himalayas, trekking to the valley of flowers, riding the waves in rapids, and camel safari in the deserts are breath taking opportunities for nature enthusiasm. Ladakh, the Garwal hills, the Himachal hills, Darjeeling, Goa, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar, Jaywalker and wildlife sanctuaries and reserves are some of the places that offer adventure tourism.

RURAL TOURISM:

Rural tourism has been identified as one of the priority areas for development of Indian tourism. Rural tourism experience should be attractive to the tourists and sustainable for the host community. The Ninth Plan identified basic objectives of rural tourism as: -

  • Improve the quality of life of rural people
  • Provide good experience to the tourist
  • Maintain the quality of environment.

Indian villages have the potential for tourism development. With attractive and unique traditional way of life, rich culture, nature, crafts, folk-lore and livelihood of Indian villages are a promising destination for the tourist. It also provides tourism facilities in terms of accessibility, accommodation, sanitation and security. Rural tourism can be used as a means to:-

  • Improve the well being of the rural poor
  • Empower the rural people
  • Empower the women
  • Enhance the rural infrastructure
  • Participate in decision-making and implementing tourism policies
  • Interaction with the outside world
  • Improve the social condition of lower sections of the society.
  • Protection of culture, heritage, and nature.

To tap the immense opportunities, coordinated actives of all agencies involved in the development are required. A carefully planned and properly implemented development will definitely benefit the community economically and improve the quality of life in the villages. The success of such development depends upon the people's participation at grass root level for the development of tourist facilities and for creating a tourist friendly atmosphere. Development of rural tourism is fast and trade in hotels and restaurants is growing rapidly. Increase in the share of earnings through rural tourism will no doubt; provide an attractive means of livelihood to the poor rural community. It increases the purchasing power at all levels of community and strengthens the rural economy. Development of infrastructure facilities such as rail, electricity, water, health and sanitation will definitely improve the quality of life.

WILDLIFE TOURISM

India has a rich forest cover which has some beautiful and exotic species of wildlife; the places where a foreign tourist can go for wildlife tourism in India are the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, and Corbett National Park.

PILGRIMAGE TOURISM

India is probably the ultimate destination of all kinds of pilgrims following any faith around the world. The great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism are the integral part of Indian culture and heritage whose values and faiths are mingled with the air, soil and the sky of India

Famous Pilgrimage & places in India

One such way of classifying the users is by dividing them into categories such as General, Sex, Region, Education, etc.

  • General: Domestic, Foreign Kids, Teens, Youths, Seniors Students, Executives, Artists Politicians, Movie stars
  • Sex: Men, Women
  • Region: Rural, Urban
  • Education: Literate, Illiterate
  • Status: Rich, Poor
  • Profession: Executives, Academics, Sportsmen, Artists
  • Occupation: White collar, Blue collar.

Another method of classifying users of tourism services is on the basis of the frequency of usage of services:

  • Non-users: They lack the willingness, desire and ability (income & leisure time).
  • Potential Users: They have the willingness but the marketing resources have not been used optimally to influence their impulse.
  • Actual Users: They are already using the services generated by the tourist organizations
  • Occasional Users: They have not formed the habit of travelling.
  • Habitual Travellers: They have formed a habit and avail of the services regularly.

Demand in Tourism Sector

  • Qualitative Aspects
  • Motivation
  • Composition
  • Typologies
  • Life styles
  • Quantitative Aspects
  • How many
  • When
  • How often
  • How and where to?

Quality in tourism

  • Quality is to deliver what you promised; So make it clear what you are going to deliver;
  • Quality is objective: amount of complaints;
  • Quality is subjective: different persons, different standards;
  • Quality is value based: Price / quality relation.

Functions of the tourism distribution channel

  • Identify consumers' needs, requests and expected experiences
  • Assemble tourism products from different providers according to customer expectations
  • Reduction of prices by negotiating and pre-purchasing tourism products in bulk
  • Issue and deliver travel documentation, i.e., ticketing, vouchers, etc.
  • Assistance in legal requirements for consumers (e.g., visas) and suppliers
  • Provision of information by using leaflets, maps, brochures, video, CDs
  • Spreading the commercial risk involved between channel members
  • Arranging details and ancillary services, such as insurance, visa, currency, etc.
  • Promotion of particular products or packages, in co-operation with suppliers
  • Complaint handling for both customers and industry

Distribution Channels in tourism Industry

  • Consensus channels
  • Vertically integrated channels
  • Vertically coordinated

Intermediaries

  • Stimulators
  • NTO's, Regional & Local Tourist Offices
  • Producers
  • Generating Country: Wholesalers or Tour operators
  • Receiving Country: Destination Management Company
  • Distributors
  • Travel Agencies
  • Facilitators
  • Touring Clubs, Banks

Who all are the target audience in B2B?

  • Individual Business Travellers
  • Sales, Service, Training etc.
  • Corporate Hospitality (Grand Prix, Sky Box)
  • Meetings
  • Incentives
  • Conferences
  • Exhibitions or Events.

A land with a long and deep historical past, and accordingly, a wide variety of customs, communities, religions, and ideologies, India is a favourite choice of many travellers. Several foreign invasions and influences have resulted in various artistic and structural depictions, suggestive of the respective influences. These depictions comprise the various tourist places in India, which are, in turn, some of the prime reasons for the advent of thousands of tourists to this country of universal appeal.

Owing to the variety that the country of India exudes in terms of climate, culture, topography, cuisine, art and architecture, you will have at your disposal a number of tourist places in India deserving a visit or two. To the north lie the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Lehn, Leach, Jammu and Kashmir and northern West Bengal which are just the right places to be in to fulfil adventure quests. The Himalayas to the north are ideal destinations for trekkers and mountaineers. Trudge through the rough terrain of the steep ranges amidst green and pristine valleys. The backwaters of Kerala are some of the other natural tourist attractions in India that lure one and all.

The cultural quests in the country of India will open up wide-ranging options, offering an array of different architectural styles. The states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat are the perfect choices in North India while Madurai, Tirupati and Chennai are the main centres of temple architecture in South India. The various fine and elaborate architectural and artistic specimens, bearing the Mughal and Hindu styles of art, are of utmost pleasure for genuine art connoisseurs. The Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, Agra Fort, the Bulund Darwaza, the Hawa Mahal etc are some of the remarkable instance of Mughal architecture. On the other hand, the Ajanta and Ellora Caves, temples of Khajuraho and Konark, Madurai and Tirupati etc are examples of Hindu architecture. The churches of Goa are again instances of Portuguese art and culture, offering a wide range of choices on a tour to India. Beaches - exotic, serene, fascinating, and tranquil - you get all kinds of beaches in India along its eastern and western coasts. Goa beaches are extremely vibrant, vivid and exotic, exuding an air of imposing vivacity. The cool breeze blowing through the swaying palms, the golden sands and the crystal clear waters will appeal to your senses. Chennai beaches are the same but the Puri beaches are more on the lines of tranquillity. Make a trip of the various tourist places in India on your India tour and you will know the huge variety that the country offers, in the various forms and shapes.

Tourism in North India:

North India refers to the set of states located on the non peninsular region of the republic of India. It includes Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. North India has been a bystander of some of the major historical and cultural development in India over the past 3500 years.

This region witnessed the evolution of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The sacred rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra and Yamuna along with numerous other rivers originate from the North. The Himalayas stretching from Himachal Pradesh to Arunachal Pradesh cut India off from the rest of Asia and safeguard the country. Another dominant geographical feature of Northern India is the vast Indo Genetic plain.

North India has been the historical centre of many great Empires including the Mauriac, Guts, Munhall and the Indian Empires under British Rule. The region has witnessed some of the biggest battles fought on Indian land. Outstanding monuments mark different places of North India, reminding us of the many empires that have ruled this country.

The states of North India have rich and diverse ethnicity and customs. Monuments like the Red Fort and Homerun's Tomb in Delhi and Taj Mahal in Agra are brilliant examples of Mughal Architecture. Qutub Minar built by Qutubbudin Aibak is another wonder of North India. The city of Jaipur in Rajasthan is known for its forts and palaces. Uttar Pradesh is ome to some of the famous wild life sanctuaries in India.

North India forms a wonderful tourist destination due to its varied culture, religion, monuments, rivers, mountains, deserts, wild life, flora and climatic variations. Tourism of North India includes enchanting tourist destinations like Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi, the capital of India, is a very important part of North India tourism. The city houses some of the most brilliant monuments like the Red Fort, Qutab Minar, India Gate, Jama Masjid, the Lotus Temple and The Parliament house. The city has some famous museums, namely, the National museum, the rail museum, the National Gallery of modern art and Gandhi museum.

Himachal Pradesh is the abode of some of the best known hill resorts of India namely Kulu Manali, Shimla and Dharamshala. Jammu and Kashmir is known as paradise on earth because of it breathtaking beauty. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal are some of the other tourist destinations in North India. Rajasthan is one of the most colourful and vibrant states of India, dotted with numerous forts and palaces. One of the most famous tour packages of North India is the golden Triangle package which includes a tour of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

Transportation to any state or city of North India is varied and convenient. The cities are very well connected to all the major cities around the world by airways, roadways and railways. All types of accommodation facilities are available at every corner of the cities. Normally transportation and accommodation facilities are included in the tour packages of North India.

Touristplacesindia.com gives you information on North India and other tourist destinations in India.

Tourism in east India:

Eastern India or "East India" comprises of the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand. This region lies between the North India and the North Eastern Part of India. This region is famous for its rich cultural heritage which is reflected in the temples and other monuments of architectural importance. This region has also many pilgrim centres for the Hindus, Buddhist and Jains. A tour to this region takes us to the architectural excellence that prevailed during the ancient and medieval India history. We at Touristplacesinindia.com provide you with complete information of all that you want to know about the history and culture in East India.

The eastern part of India is famous for its beaches, temples, and Monasteries. The four major states in East India draw a large number of tourists from all around the world each year. The major attractions in these states are as follow:

West Bengal: Kolkata, the Capital of the State served as the Capital of India during the British rule and was the source of all political powers during that time. The British rule in India saw a number of wonders in the city of Kolkata like the Howrah Bridge - one of the largest cantilever bridge in the world, the Victoria Memorial and the Indian Museum. Besides, there are also other places in Kolkata which are worth visit by every tourist. They include the St Paul's Cathedral, Dakshineswar Kali temple, Kalighat, Belur Math, Science city to name a few. Other places of interest in West Bengal include the city Murshidabad, Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan, and the Mountainous beauty of the Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.

Bihar: The landlocked state of Bihar is another attraction of the Eastern Part of India. This state is considered to be the land of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Nalanda, perhaps the world's first seat of higher learning is located here. The Capital of the state, Patna, stands on the banks of the holy river Ganga. Some of the Buddhist and Jain sites in the state include the Vaishali, Patna, Rajgir, Pawapuri, Buddha Gaya, and Nalanda. There are also Muslim sites in and around the city, important among them include the Maner Sharif, Khankah Mujibia, Dargah Sharif, and Khankah Emadia to name a few.

Jharkhand: It is the 28th State in India carved out of Bihar in the year 2000. The state is rich in minerals and its forests and woodlands occupy more than 29% of the total land area of the state. It is an industrial city with its capital at Ranchi. The tourist destination in the city includes the Palamou, Netarhat, Shahpur and the Betla districts.

Orissa: Popularly known as the "Soul of India", Orissa is located in the Eastern coast of India with Bhubaneswar as its capita. The city has numerous wildlife sanctuaries and pristine lakes, beaches, temples and waterfalls. The two most prominent temples in Orissa which are frequently visited by the tourists include the Sun Temple at Konark and the Jagannath Temple at Puri.

Tourism in West India:

Western India comprises of the states of Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra, and is primarily famous for places like Mumbai, Goa, Rann of Kutch, the cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora and the Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat. Boasting of a rich cultural heritage, this part of the country houses some exemplary tourist sites including magnificent monuments, which are embodiments of the glorious architectural heritage of ancient India. Besides, the temperate climate in west India supports the growth of uniquely varied flora and fauna. Hence, some of the finest and best known wildlife sanctuaries are located in West India.

The third largest state in India, Maharashtra overlooks the Arabian Sea and forms an integral part of West India. This coastal state presents a fine blend of tradition and modernity, and is home to several enchanting tourist attractions. Maharashtra's rich cultural tradition is magnificently reflected in its palaces and monuments which lure hundreds of tourists to Maharashtra from all corners of the globe. Prominent among these monuments are the Gateway of India, Mumbai; Elephanta Caves, Mumbai, Aga Khan Palace, Pune; Aurangabad Caves; and the rock cut caves at Ajanta and Ellora. Home to some of the finest embodiments of rock-cut architecture, Ajanta and Ellora are archaeological sites, lying about 30 km from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. This World Heritage Site is renowned for its monumental caves built by the Rashtrakutas and other ruling dynasties of ancient South India.

Lying on the western coast of India, Goa is one of the main states in West India and an endearing abode of scenic charm and beauty. A vacationer's paradise, Goa presents an exhilarating combination of an unending expanse of spectacular beaches, sensuous golden sands, rich cultural heritage, varied flora and fauna, beautiful churches and magnificent temples. You simply don't need to look beyond the magical land of Goa for the perfect holiday, be it fun, adventure, sunshine, spirituality or just relaxation.

No West India tour can be complete without a visit to the coastal state of Gujarat which flaunts the longest coastline (1290 km) in India. Home to some of the foremost tourist places in West India, Gujarat is known for its ancient temples, spectacular beaches, colourful people and the rich cultural heritage. The home state of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the nation, Gujarat boasts of beautiful temples, sunny beaches, the Rann of Kutch, several historic sites, well planned cities, national parks and sanctuaries.

Tourism in South India:

Experience the mystery and magic of South India Tours with its fascinating history, rich culture and traditions. As you go down to peninsular India, the fascinating land of temples unravels itself for you. The major destinations of south India include Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Lakshadweep, and Andaman& Nicobar Islands. Whether you are an adventure lover, pilgrim, or a wildlife enthusiast, south India has it all to enthral you.

The exquisite temples are the strongest lures and a wealth of south India. The historic monuments and temples can be found in large numbers in the states of south India. The intricately carved temples are feasts to the eyes and some of them you must visit include Guruvayoor Temple, Kalpathy Temple, Meenakshi Temple, Murugan Temple, Badami Cave Temple, Tirupati Tirumala Balaji and Saneeshwara Temple. These marvelous structures also stand testimony to the ancient heritage of the empires that greatly patronized the artistic pursuits.

A Travel to South India will remain incomplete without a visit to the palm fringed sandy beaches that accentuate the scenic charm of south India. The long coastline has conferred the south Indian states with numerous enchanting beaches and the most well-known among them being Alappuzha Beach, Kovalam Beach, Marina Beach, Kanyakumari Beach and Maravanthe Beach.

Apart from the beaches, south India is also well known for its captivating wildlife which attracts hordes of wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. Watch the wild denizens roaming in their natural habitat freely along with a large number of migratory birds that frequent the protected forests of South India. Some of the acclaimed wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of south India are Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary and Bandipur National Park.

The fairs and festivals of south India mirror the rich culture and tradition of the people of the region. Passed on from generations, these still are celebrated with utmost zest and excitement. You will find the people clad in their traditional attire and piously following the spectacular rituals. The festivities are marked by important occasions such as harvest, arrival of the monsoons and paying reverence to the worshipped deities. The famous ones are Onam, Aaranmula Boat Race, Pongal Festival and Natyanjali Dance Festival.

A gratifying holiday is greatly dependent upon the accommodations and in south India; you will find a wide range of hotels and resorts to chose from. The various hotels located in important towns of south India and also provide resort and spa facilities. Kerala is a state that is particularly famous for its ayurvedic spa resorts. Some of the five star deluxe hotels in Chennai are Le Royal Meridien, Park Sheraton & Towers and Taj Coromandel. Likewise, you can find a number of hotels that are dotted in the other towns of south India too such as Kodaikanal, Coonoor, Kovalam, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin.

With almost limitless things to take delight in, you are certainly going to have unforgettable holidays in south India for south India tourist places.

Growth of Tourism Sector in India:

The Tourism sector of Indian economy is at present experiencing a huge growth. The Tourism sector of Indian economy has become one of the major industrial sectors under the Indian economy. The tourism industry earns foreign exchanges worth Rs. 21,828 crore. Previous year the growth rate of the tourism sector of Indian economy was recorded as 17.3%

The growth in the tourism industry is due to the rise in the arrival of more and more foreign tourists and the increase in the number of domestic tourists. Tourists from Africa, Australia, Lain America, Europe, Southeast Asia, etc are visiting India and there are growing by the thousands every year.

India's economic growth rate is expected to moderate to 7.8 percent in 2008-09, mainly on account of a global slowdown, said Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a marketing research wing of the prestigious publication, The Economist. Christopher C. Doyle, EIU's country manager for India, told reporters Thursday that India was the second fastest growing economy in the world after China.

"We expect that India's economic growth rate would be at 7.8 percent in the next fiscal," said Doyle. He said EIU chose India also for the study because it was a growing and a booming economy.

Indian Tourism offers a potpourri of different cultures, traditions, festivals, and places of interest. There are a lot of options for the tourists. India is a country with rich cultural and traditional diversity. This aspect is even reflected in its tourism. The different parts of the country offer wide variety of interesting places to visit. While the international tourism is experiencing a decelerated growth, the Indian counterpart is not affected.

The factors for the growth of the Tourism sector of Indian economy

  • Increase in the general income level of the populace
  • Aggressive advertisement campaigns on the tourist destinations
  • Rapid growth of the Indian economy
  • The objectives of the National Action Plan for Tourism
  • Socio economic development of areas
  • Increase in the opportunities for employment
  • Development of the domestic tourism for the middle class segment of the society
  • Preservation and restoration of the national heritage and environment
  • Developing international tourism
  • Promotion of tourism based product diversification
  • Increasing the Indian share in global tourism
  • Some of the important tourist destinations in India
  • North India.
  • New Delhi: The capital city of India and has a rich cultural past
  • Agra: The city of the Taj Mahal and one of the greatest tourist attractions in India
  • Simla: A splendid hill station in the Himalayas
  • Dehradun: The capital of Uttaranchal and famous for its fantastic scenery

East India:

  • Kolkata: The cultural capital of India, the city of Tagore, and Satyajit Ray
  • Guwahati: Important base for tourism in the region
  • Shillong: The capital of Meghalaya, and famous for its breathtaking lush green landscapes
  • Patna: One of the oldest cities in India and famous for its historical relics
  • Jamshedpur: An important industrial township, home of the Tata industries

Central India:

  • Allahabad: The city of the Prayag and the Kumbha Mela
  • Varanasi: The holiest city for the Hindus, famous for its temples and ghats
  • Bhopal: The capital of Madhya Pradesh and important centre of tourism

West India:

Mumbai: The commercial capital of India and the city that never sleeps Panjim: The main city in the state of Goa which is famous for its golden beaches and pristine waters Udaipur: The city of palaces famous for its Lake Palace in the middle of Lake Pichola

South India:

Chennai: The Automobile capital of India Bangalore: The Silicon Valley of India, famous for its software companies and a has a beautiful weather Trivandum: The city of the famous Kovalam Beach Cochin : A coastal city famous for its historical relevance.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

The contribution of Travel & Tourism to Gross Domestic Product is expected to stay the same at 6.0% (INR3,239.4 bn or US$67.3 bn) in 2009 to 6.0% (INR10,274.1 bn or US$187.3 bn) by 2019.

Employment

The contribution of the Travel & Tourism economy to employment is expected to rise from 31,105,000 jobs in 2009, 6.4% of total employment or 1 in every 15.6 jobs to 40,037,000 jobs, 7.2% of total employment or 1 in every 13.8 jobs by 2019.

Growth

Real GDP growth for Travel & Tourism economy is expected to be 0.2% in 2009 and to average 7.7% per annum over the coming 10 years.

Exports

Export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected to generate 6.0% of total exports (INR811.9 bn or US$16.9 bn) in 2009, growing (nominal terms) to INR2,819.0 bn or US$51.4 bn (4.1% of total) in 2019.

WORLD RANKING

The India Travel & Tourism economy is ranked number:

  • 14 in absolute size worldwide
  • 144 in relative contribution to national economies
  • 5 in long-term (10-year) growth

Tourism and healthcare, being an integral part of many economies services industry are both important sources of foreign exchange. Globalisation has promoted a consumerist culture leading to the mushrooming of corporate healthcare settings seized with the necessity to maximise profits and expand their coverage. However, the constraint lies in the fact that these services can be afforded by a relatively small size of population in developing countries.

Low insurance penetration, lack of standardisation of services, poor information base, ineffective monitoring leading to low quality, high levels of fraud and corruption, misallocation of investments and low efficiency of existing hospitals have impeded effective performance leading to a stagnation of the healthcare sector. In this scenario, corporate interests in the medical care sector are looking for opportunities beyond the national boundaries.

This is the genesis of "Medical Tourism" industry. The term medical tourism refers to the increasing tendency among people from the UK, the US and many other third world countries, where medical services are either very expensive or not available, to leave their countries in search for more affordable health options, often packaged with tourist attractions.

Long waiting lists, decline in public spending and rise in life expectancy and non communicable diseases that require specialist services are some of the factors directing a wave of medical tourists to more affordable healthcare destinations. Most countries are tapping the health tourism market due to aggressive international marketing in conjunction with their tourism industry. In this rat race, Thailand, Malaysia, Jordan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Lithuania and South Africa have emerged as big healthcare destinations.

India is unique as it offers holistic healthcare addressing the mind, body and spirit. With yoga, meditation, ayurveda, allopathy and other Indian systems of medicine, India offers a vast array of services combined with the cultural warmth that is difficult to match by other countries. Also, clinical outcomes in India are on par with the world's best centres, besides having internationally qualified and experienced specialists. CII believes that India should capitalise on its inherent strengths to become a world player in medical tourism. According to a CII-Mc Kinsey study, medical tourism in India could become a USD 1 billion business by 2012. Instead of adopting a segmental approach of targeting a few states such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, efforts are now being made to project "Destination India" as a complete brand ideal for medical tourists.

Countries from where people head for India are the UK, Bangladesh, Oman, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, etc. Visitors, especially from the West and Middle East find Indian hospitals a very affordable and viable option to grappling with insurance and national medical systems in their native lands. There are thousands of expatriates without any social security and health insurance cover who usually compare the costs before going for treatment and India has a cost advantage for this segment.

Although, the existing market for medical tourism in India is small, it can grow rapidly if the industry reorients itself to lure foreign patients from all potential regions such as SAARC, Central Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, OECD besides the UK and the US. The annual health bill of people from Afro-Asian countries seeking treatment outside their countries is USD 10 billion. If India can even tap a fraction of that market, the potential is enormous. The price advantage is however offset today for patients from the developed countries by concerns regarding standards, insurance coverage and other infrastructure.

The question being asked by many is that how India can become an international destination in healthcare, when the clientele at home is bristling with dissatisfaction. Hence, arises the need to define minimum standards at national level, compulsory registration and adoption of these standards by all providers and regular monitoring and enforcing of such standards at the local level. Quality assessment should combine evaluation of infrastructure as well as outcomes.

An obvious answer to all this is accreditation. This will ensure transparency in the way a hospital performs, and everything from the operating to the cleaning procedures will be monitored, audited and recorded. With an aim to boost the much talked about medical tourism, many corporate hospitals in India are looking to international agencies such as JCAHO/JCI for accreditation. Accreditation will even make tie ups with overseas health insurance agencies such as BUPA and CHUBS easier to route patients to India. As the medical tourism industry is growing exponentially, government and the private players need to join hands in order to act as a catalyst to build infrastructure for hospitals, create specialty tourist packages to include medical treatment, promote accreditation and standardisation, enable access and tie-ups with insurance companies, provide state of art facilities and improve quality of in-patient care and service to meet the requirements of foreign patients and to attain sustainable competitive advantage.

Many fear about the serious consequences of equity and cost of services and raise a fundamental question on the very existence of medical tourism- why should developing countries be subsidising the healthcare of developed nations? For them, medical tourism is likely to further devalue and divert personnel from the already impoverished public health system. However, with good planning and implementation, medical tourism besides being an economy booster can surely help India maintain good cross border and trade relations, exchange of manpower and technology among countries.

Strategies are thus needed not just to project India as a major healthcare destination, but also to create a system to conduct proper market research and feasibility studies in order to quantify the "How many", "From where", "To where", and most importantly the "How" of medical tourism. Only then can we leverage and channelize all efforts in the right direction. In the absence of proper planning, formulation, implementation and evaluation of coherent strategies, the much created hype and all the talk may just go in vain.

Cost Competitiveness - The Key driver of Medical tourism:

The main reason for India's emergence as a preferred destination is the inherent advantage of its healthcare industry. Today Indian healthcare is perceived to be on par with global standards. Some of the top Indian hospitals and doctors have strong international reputation. But the most important factor that drives medical tourism to India is its low cost advantage. Majority of foreign patients visit India primarily to avail of "First World Service at Third World Cost".

Figure: First World Service at Third World Cost"

Source: Business World India and Indian Brand Equity Foundation

As the table above shows, India has significant cost advantages in several health procedures making it a preferred destination.

Market Players in Medical Tourism:

The major players in Indian medical tourism are: the Apollo Hospitals, Escorts Hospital, Wockhardt Hospitals, Arvind Eye Hospitals, Manipal Hospitals, Mallya Hospital, Shankara Nethralaya etc. AIIMs, a public -sector hospital is also in the fray. In terms of locations - Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai cater to the maximum number of health tourists and are fast emerging as medi-tourism hubs.

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