When people first heard about Prime Minister Modi’s adventure on Man VS Wild Show hosted by Bear Grylle, there were many reactions. Some of them said, “It would be great to see the prime minister in the wild promoting wildlife conservation”. Some said, “Prime Minister knows how to engage with people in different ways”. Few others Said, “PM knows how to promote himself”. However, I believe some people are missing the bigger picture and what the Prime Minster is trying to accomplish. Over the last five years, if we look at many of his moves, they have been strategic in nature and they have been about how India can earn its rightful place in this world.
Let’s look at his participation in Man Vs Wild show from a strategic perspective. He obviously enjoys being with nature. However, in addition to promoting wildlife conservation and living in harmony with nature, he also has another motive to be a part of this show.
The total leisure international tourism market in the world was $ 1.34 Trillion in 2017 according to UNWTO – and India’s share of that market is miniscule. In fact, India does not even get one tenth of China foreign exchange earnings. Europe gets the highest number of tourists with France at #1 (86M tourists) and Spain at # 2 (82M tourists) according to Statista, which tracks Travel and Tourism market worldwide. India welcomed 11M international visitors in 2018, however, India can get much larger number of tourists and therefore much higher foreign exchange earnings. Travel and Tourism industry worldwide is growing, and millions of people are working in this industry.
The question is, how India can make that happen? This is where strategic thinking comes in. If we start looking at the big picture and then start connecting the dots we find that various initiatives he has announced (and getting implemented) in last few years – even though they look distinctly different and highly useful in isolation – together create a much powerful force to accelerate travel and tourism in India.
Focus on Clean India –If India wants to attract tourists, it needs better infrastructure, such as roads, hotels, electricity, phones etc. but, it is not enough. One of the biggest obstacles for getting more tourists to India is – lack of cleanliness. We all know what Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Clean India initiative is important not only for better health for all Indians, but also helpful in getting more international tourists to India.
Building Regional Airports for easy connectivity – Focus on regional airports for tier 2 and tier 3 cities and towns is another initiative that has helped many people access hard to reach places by roads and trains. This initiative not only reduces time to reach these destinations, but also helps improve the economy in these areas. For tourists, it means convenience and ease of traveling. The belief is that it would help increase the number of international tourists to India (as they are pressed for time) and would help the tourists explore many hard-to-reach destinations easily.
Focus for Digital Infrastructure – In last 4 years the Indian government has promoted the use of digital payments. The number of digital transactions in the country have gone up exponentially. This not only has helped curb cash payments, but also has made transactions convenient for people. Tourists find it easy as well. Rather than carrying local currency/cash everywhere it is easier for them to make digital payments. The digital infrastructure has grown significantly in the country to the extent that even the small shops have started accepting digital payments.
All these initiatives on their own are very important for India, however, together they form a powerful platform for tourists and put India on their travel plan. So, the next time, when you see Prime Minister Modi appearing on a program that you had least expected, you will know why.
Finally, if the travel and tourism industry, prospers, it will increase employment. Creating Employment opportunities is one of the primary goals of any government and the PM hopes that benefits of this connected system will create millions of jobs and will help India surge ahead.
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