Tamil Nadu has managed to retain its first position in the list of destinations having the maximum number of domestic and international tourist arrivals in India. A total of more than 1.21 crore tourists had visited Tamil Nadu in 2016, only a marginal increase from the 1.20 crore in 2015. No proper steps are being taken to increase the arrival of domestic and international tourists to the State.

 Unfortunately, in India though the potential for improving Tourism industry the attention paid is very much wanting. The State and Central Governments  have taken no adequate steps to increase the tourism footfall in Tamil Nadu.

 Tourism should be given an unprecedented importance by the Government of India to showcase the Geographical diversity, the rich cultural heritage and the historical legacy of India to the world. The e-visa fee and GST rates on hotel room bookings have contributed to a decline in the number of tourists, leading to reduced earnings for the tourism sector in Tamil Nadu.

          The vital role a vibrant tourism industry plays in employment generation and economic growth cannot be emphasized enough. Studies show that each tourist contributes to the employment of 40 persons. Globally, the tourism industry accounted for 10% of the world’s GDP and 10% of all employments in the year 2018.

          The Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which endeavours to develop theme-based tourist circuits that invite the attention of local and international tourists while promoting sustainable infrastructure development and the conservation and promotion of local art and craft is a non starter and has failed to boost tourism in my State of Tamil Nadu.

          The Swadesh Darshan Scheme has selected only 9 sites in Tamil Nadu while neglecting major tourist spots situated in Tamil Nadu.

          In order to further expand and enhance the tourism industry in India, I would like to submit the following suggestions:

–         First, to ensure hassle-free experience for tourist especially women tourists, a comprehensive National Strategy on Safety and Security of Tourists, including ‘Tourism Police’ should be developed.

–         Second, the future Tourism Policy of India should incorporate ways and means to bring investments from both foreign and domestic investors into the tourism industry in order to fill the current and projected future investment gaps. Owing to the diverse culture and heritage of each State I recommend that the future Tourism Policy be State Specific.

–         Third, apart from Chennai, several important tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu are a matter of great pride and been on the priority list of foreign tourists. Therefore should be more direct international flights, especially to and from European countries and better connectivity to other cities in Tamil Nadu.

          Domestic tourism is the future of tourism in India. To attract more tourists we should aim to make tourism spots more accessible. Hence, there ought to be better air, rail and road connectivity.

          People from across the globe come to India and spend a lot of money for all that we offer in Yoga, Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha. But there is still a lot of room for growth in the Health and Wellness Tourism Sector, which could benefit from a well-planned, global promotional campaign to increase footfall, investment, and revenue and create even more jobs.

          One of the best ways to experience a destination is by walking around the city. To enhance the experience for tourists, more and improved pedestrian pathways, restrooms, drinking water and other rest and recreational facilities should be built.

          Our wild life sanctuaries and national parks are a huge tourist attraction and its very important to protect and conserve the same as well as add more facilities, activities and infrastructure while keeping in mind the ecological balance.

          Most importantly a more aggressive and innovative promotional strategy to showcase India’s rich heritage, culture, diversity and destinations in various parts of the world needs to be built.

          The Government of India should take proactive steps to ensure that India shall soon become the number one tourist destination of the world.

          Rural Tourism in Tamil Nadu is the coming together of Tamil Nadu’s Spiritual, Cultural, Heritage and Leisure on a platter for the deserving traveller. Rural Tamil Nadu is extremely simple and hospitable and you are sure to make some new friends living in the heart of this vibrant peninsular. Each village has its own distinctive performing arts, rituals, festivals and different styles of worshipping their local deities. This offers travellers a unique reality holiday experience, by giving its travellers an opportunity to discover rural India’s fairs, dance and arts forms. Until a few years ago, the future of many rare rural arts forms was threatened. It’s audience moved over to larger entertainment media like television and cinema and due to this lack of patronage folk artistes and artisans were forced to take on other occupations. In efforts to revive these disappearing art forms, rural tourism has become a boon for them. Rural tourism has brought the rural Tamil Nadu a wider global audience. Tourist visiting village fairs and festivals interact and learn from these village artisans first hand. This should also be promoted by the Government of India so as to preserve and promote the culture of Tamil Nadu.

          The Government of India should also promote Eco-tourism, Pilgrimage Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Adventure Tourism etc.

          Therefore, I request the Government of India to sanction adequate funds to promote tourism in Tamil Nadu, which is the hub of multiple forms of tourism, thereby leading to increase our foreign reserve income and employment opportunities.

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