Even while 98 year old B.K.S. Iyengar, Father of Iyengar yoga, one of India’s largest exports, tours China a country with 30,000 Iyengar followers, India’s tourism ministry is grappling with ways to attract tourists to the land of the Taj Mahal.
According to recent statistics, While China had 5.80 percent of the world’s tourism arrivals in 2009, India’s share was a modest 0.59 percent. Foreign tourist arrivals in India reached 5.58 million in 2010 from 3.92 million in 2005. Faced with a stark tourist deficit in a nation that advertises “Incredible India’, Union tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday to seek ways to improve tourist footfalls. Besides senior officials, a delegation of stakeholders in tourism including hoteliers and tour operators will also accompany Sahay to seek the PM’s intervention to give a boost to the tourism industry in the country.
One area of drastic improvement is the Indian hospitality sector. Just like the Indian budget airline industry is burgeoning, the Indian mid-range hotel hasn’t been able to cater to the huge mid-income bracket that swarms its sights. High end hotel rooms such as the Taj and Oberoi cater to the uber rich, while unkept, dingy motels cater to everybody else. Unlike China which has mastered the art of catering to all pockets of travelers and businessmen, India which exceeds China in its services sector hasn’t been able to deliver here .
Additionally, India hasn’t been able to sell itself as a transit hub like Singapore or Beijing, which is now the second busiest airport in the world. Infrastructure hurdles including a low capacity build-up mean that take-offs and landings in India are limited. Owning to a rising trade, businessmen and tourists are eager to cross the Himalayas to know more about their neighbors, – five times the number of Indian tourists visited China last year as compared to Chinese tourists to India, however potential is still not being met as India isn’t considered a clean or safe destination internationally.