By Japan K Pathak
‘ has cover story in its latest issue that shows Chief Minister Narendra Modi dressed in traditional holding an embroidered umbrella. While the photo is OK, the caption says: ‘Gujarat is top destination in terms of tourists preference’, which is completely wrong and untrue claim.
Market Research Division of Ministry of Tourism compiles data on “domestic and foreign tourist visits to States/ UTs” received from Ministries/ Departments of Tourism of various State Governments and UT Administrations.
Following are the important highlights of data for 2009. According to this data, Gujarat is at tenth place so far as domestic tourist traffic figures. In view of percentage, Gujarat’s share is very very low.
(a) Domestic Tourist Visits to Sates/ UTs
· During 2009, the number of domestic tourist visits in India to the States/ UTs was 650 million as compared to 563 million in 2008 and 527 millions in 2007.
· During 2009, the number of domestic tourist visits in India to States/UTs registered an increase of 15.5% over 2008 as compared to increase of 6.9% in 2008 over 2007.
· The top ten States in terms of number of domestic tourist visits (in millions) during 2009 were Andhra Pradesh (157.5), Uttar Pradesh (134.8), Tamil Nadu (115.8), Karnataka (32.7), Rajasthan (25.6), Maharashtra (23.7), Madhya Pradesh (23.1), Uttarakhand (21.9), West Bengal (20.5) and Gujarat (15.9).
· The contribution of top 10 States was about 88% to the total number of domestic tourist visits during 2009. The percentage shares of top 5 States were Andhra Pradesh (24.2%), Uttar Pradesh (20.7%), Tamil Nadu (17.8%), Karnataka (5.0%) and Rajasthan (3.9%).
Seeing the trend of domestic travel, we can sum up that religious travel is on the top. Business travel can add up to some extent too. Why Andhra Pradesh is no. 1 in domestic travel? Well the answer is perhaps Tirupati mandir. And Hyderabad of course adds to it in terms of business arrival. At second number is Uttar Pradesh which has Taj Mahal, number of Hindu religious places, Ganga, and of course Kumbh mela. Gujarat’s entry into top ten is thanks to Somnath, Dwarika, Palitana and Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. But staying behind West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Tamilnadu in top ten is shameful for Gujarat looking at its potential.
Now lets come to foreign tourists arrival figures. Gujarat is nowhere in top ten. This means Gujarat has much to do in this area.
(b) Foreign Tourist visits to States/ UTs
· During 2009, the number of foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to the States/ UTs was 13.7 million as compared to 14.1 million in 2008 and 13.3 million in 2007.
· During 2009, the number of FTVs to States/UTs registered a decline of 2.8% over 2008 as compared to an increase of 6.4% in 2008 over 2007. This decline in FTVs is similar to the trend of the decline of 3.3% in the foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) during 2009.
· The top ten States in terms of number of FTVs (in millions) during 2009 were Tamil Nadu (2.37), Maharashtra (2.0), Delhi (1.96), Uttar Pradesh (1.53), West Bengal (1.18), Rajasthan (1.07), Andhra Pradesh (0.80), Kerala (0.55), Bihar (0.42) and Himachal Pradesh (0.40).
· The contribution of top 10 States was about 90% to the total number of FTVs in the country during 2009. The percentage shares of top 5 States were Tamil Nadu (17.3%), Maharashtra (14.6%), Delhi (14.3%), Uttar Pradesh (11.25) and West Bengal (8.6%).
Data show that domestic tourism registered an impressive growth of 15.5% in 2009 inspite of economic recession and other adverse factors for tourism. On the contrary, FTAs and FTVs registered a decline of 3.3% and 2.8% respectively during the same period. This brings out the importance of domestic tourism in the overall tourism development in the country.
Bottom of the story is that: We don’t need unnecessary and untrue boasting about tourist preference on the cover page of government’s official magazine with Chief Minister’s photo. Lots of work has to be done in infrastructure sector so far as tourism in Gujarat is concerned. While past Congress governments created infrastructure, but couldn’t maintain it. The BJP government has taken ‘closure and privatization’ route. Present government doesn’t believe in running the show on own, but wants private players to come up and invest in tourism sector. Some partners are coming in, but it’s just not enough, actually it’s far from enough. When it comes to Tourism sector, Gujarat govt is just beating the drums and it is fine, but the drum is hollow from inside.