‘Focus on tourist value’

Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, India, claims that with its unique offerings and transformational change at a population scale would make India a brand for sustainable tourism in coming years.

Nisha Verma

At the recent Travel For LiFE: Tourism Sustainability Summit 2024, Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, India, speaking as the Chief Guest, asserted that tourism will be a major driver of India’s growth trajectory for the next three decades. Lauding the theme of the summit, he said, “Tourism will not only be a driver in terms of GDP, but it will be the creator of 25 million new jobs in the next five to six years. The multiplier impact of tourism is enormous. For every single direct job that is created from tourism, there are seven indirect jobs that are created and, therefore, for India to grow with equity and for inclusive growth, there is no better sector than travel and tourism. When we grow in the next three decades in the travel and tourism sector in terms of volume, it’s necessary that we do sustainable and responsible tourism.”

Citing that India will have the third highest greenhouse gas emissions in the world, he shared, “Therefore, India must become the first country in the world to expand its GDP through a process of decarbonization. And that means it must adopt a different strategy for manufacturing and urbanization.”

Kant mentioned that one of the key aspects of India’s G20 leadership was to arrive at a green development pact. “One of the key components of that was the Travel for LiFE, which is important because we must realise that we add a huge footprint as we travel. India attracting 10 million tourists by 2035 will be a destination of about 40-45 million tourists going forward. Hence, I have been a long-term believer that it is not the number that is important, but it’s the value that is important. We should focus on enhancing the value per tourist rather than focusing on the number game. It’s imperative that we should focus on tourism, which differentiates and enhances the value of India as a destination. Therefore, Travel for LiFE is very significant.”

He outlined that when Prime Minister spoke about Travel for LiFE in Glasgow, he envisaged that we should all become pro-planet people. “The hospitality sector must become the number one in spreading or for making and converting, both the members of the travel and tourism industry, as well as tourists of the world, as pro-planet people. An IEA study reveals that if we can just switch off the lights, switch-off the cars, or turn-off the water, we could lower 21 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world.”

He added, “Therefore, it’s important that tourism industry must become the brand ambassador or the agent of change and the driver of recycling of waste and water, as well as of ensuring that all of us can provide more responsible and sustainable tourism. If we can do this, we will lead the world. The brand entity of India’s tourism will then become responsible tourism and sustainable tourism. World over, India’s branding will be as a leading destination for sustainability and by doing this you will enhance the value and the per unit capita receipts from tourists coming in. Also, all companies can attract much greater level of capital investments from across the world.”
Kant suggested that in the coming months, we should implement the Travel for LiFE program in a manner that we bring transformation at a population scale.

“The travel and tourism industry must demonstrate that it’s a very large industry spread across all the states and Union territories of India. If we can implement sustainability and if we implement LiFE program across the industry, it will be a transformational change across India. That will add huge value to travel and tourism in the days to come. It will add great brand equity to India’s tourism and it will establish India’s travel and tourism industry as being truly unique, and as the most sustainable industry in the world. With the increased brand equity, the values will rise, and India’s ability to attract capital and tourists from all over the world will rise enormously. That is huge value to India as a tourism destination,” he said.

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