Tourism industry which is one of the key sectors of earnings for India generated R6.4 trillion and contributing 6.6% of the nation’s GDP in 2012 and is being promoted actively by the government to attract more tourists. Foreign tourist arrival in India touched 6.6 million mark in 2012 increasing by 5.4% over 20111 with foreign exchange earnings increasing by 21.8% over 2011. Although there has been a deep nosedive from the 9% incremental growth achieved in 2011 over 2010, it is still twice the world average as per the Indian Bureau of Immigration.
Indian tourism industry supported 39.5 million jobs, 7.7% of its total employment. Currently India is ranked as the 38th country in the world in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and 65th out of 144 countries in terms of international tourism competitiveness. The sector is predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023 which would make India the third rank among countries with the fastest growing tourism industries over the next decade.
Indian tourism industry provides enormous opportunities for growth in all aspects of tourism—business, medical, sports, education and culture and heritage. The natural attraction and the potential to become a repeat source of earnings is significant with culture and heritage tourism as has been often mentioned. In this column we shall examine the key areas where digital technologies could contribute in making culture and heritage tourism not only a provider of livelihood options for millions and thus a star earner for the country but also enhance the value of brand India.
Promotion of culture and heritage tourism can be broadly divided into three phases. The first phase involves creating awareness and presenting adequate information to be able to generate interest amongst the public to create a ‘desire’ to travel to the destinations being promoted. Over the years, a significant amount of effort has been invested towards this objective by the government, the hotels, travel agencies and other tourism related ventures through their websites, playing a key role in presenting the information. However there is a lot of room for improvement in promoting the not so popular but several valuable heritage sites with authentic background information packaged such that it creates curiosity and excitement amongst the potential visitors.
There is a huge lag of information between the researchers, the archaeologists and heritage enthusiasts which should be bridged and the sites should be presented