New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) The tourism sector should aim at a substantially higher growth rate of at least 12 percent during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) to cushion against any shortfall in other sectors. It should also adopt a "pro-poor" policy so that the benefits trickle down to the grassroots, a White Paper released by the government
Contexting the projections, the paper said: "The annual growth rate of the tourism sector is estimated to be 8.1 percent during the last five years, which is marginally higher than the economic growth rate of 7.9 per cent expected to be achieved during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12)," the paper said.
The tourism sector is expected to grow by 8.8 per cent during the 2011-2021 period.
In comparison, the 12th Plan envisages a 4 percent growth rate in the agricultural sector, 8 percent in the manufacturing sector and 9.1 per cent in the services sector.
Projections by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) say India has the highest growth potential over a 10-year period between 2009 and 2018. But the expected growth rate in the tourism sector is inadequate both in terms of contribution to the overall economic growth and its potential. The 12th Plan must target a significant improvement, the paper said.
The 12th Plan must evolve a strategy based on promotion of tourism infrastucture, developing programmes for marketing, social awareness campaigns, building capacity of service providers in the tourism sector and enhance India's competitiveness as a tourism destination.
Citing figures, the paper said the tourism sector had registered an annual growth rate of 2.04 percent during the six-year period of 2004-05 to 2010-11.
However, India's global ranking in respect of "Effectiveness of Marketing and Branding" declined from 59 to 2006 to 63 in 2010, necessitating more vigorous marketing.
The paper said the government should adopt a "pro-poor" tourism approach to bring net benefit to the poor through tourism activities to eliminate poverty by redistributing resources.
Using the responsible tourism model of Kumarakom in Kerala, where grassroots self-help groups of women have been feeding the tourism supply and manufacturing chain as providers, the paper said the means to achieve this goal was to expand the opportunities for them through capacity building and transfer of skills in close cooperation with education, training and micro-finance institutions.
"Pro-poor tourism has a holistic notion of poverty alleviation. Non-economic benefits are as important as economic gains. As improved management approach of the tourism industry cane provide new skills, better access to education and healthcare, access to information and opportunities to communicate, it can prove to be the proverbial engine
for growth in India," the paper said.