While India and USA join hands to explore the travel and tourism sector as a means to drive economic growth, the untapped potential of India as an outbound destination for the most frequently travelling US tourists remain a major concern.
The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) organised in New Delhi a conference featuring a delegation from the US led by the American Ambassador to India, Richard Verma. The theme of the conference was “Travel and Tourism to achieve a USD 500 billion trade between India and USA”. The US Ambassador while delivering the keynote address said that with apt investments in airline connectivity and consistency in civil governance policies, the travel and tourism industry in India is capable of a faster growth.
Efficient air connectivity
In his speech at the IACC conference, Richard Verma pointed out the importance of an efficient civil aviation policy to strengthen tourism ties between India and US: “In 2015, the US was India’s largest source of foreign tourists. Over 1.2 million American visitors came to India, accounting for 15 per cent of the total foreign travellers.” However, the number is actually nothing compared to the 68 million outbound American travellers every year. Thus an open sky policy can drive India’s tourism industry, which is otherwise deterred due to the lack of an aggressive aviation policy.
Verma expressed future prospects in terms of increasing passenger traffic in between the two countries, as India’s steps to augment regional connectivity and as growth in the aviation sector looks promising. The US Ambassador also welcomed the recently announced National Civil Aviation Policy and the 100 pc foreign direct investment (FDI) in the civil aviation sector.
— IACC- NIC (@IaccNic) June 30, 2016
6.3 pc of India’s GDP in 2015
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) revealed that the travel and tourism sector contributed USD 120 billion or 6.3 pc of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015. The sector created employment opportunities for 37 million people and is poised to grow further in the coming years.
Verma, while commenting on the prospects of employment, described how the travel and tourism sector unlike the other sectors has a multiplier effect in terms of creating jobs: “With improvement in the civil aviation sector, civic governance, communication strategy and consistency of policies, Indian travel industry hopes to create 46 million job opportunities by 2025.”
Air India to add more U.S. destinations
The Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, Ashwani Lohani, recently said in an interview with DD News that the airline is absolutely ready to take up challenges and competition which will follow the new civil aviation policy. To improve India and US connections, Air India is all set to announce two more destinations in the U.S. by next year, after the Delhi-Washington route. Air India will introduce an Ahmedabad-Newark (New Jersey) flight, the CMD said.
The national carrier will also look into the demand for flying to Los Angeles, as well as providing a flight connection to the U.S. from Hyderabad. Last December, Air India started a non-stop thrice-a-week flight between New Delhi and San Francisco. Air India also operates non-stop flights to Chicago and New York from Delhi and to Newark from Mumbai.