Partnering with Diaspora to Accelerate Tourism in India

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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government, reconnect them with their roots and celebrate their achievements and contributions. PBD is celebrated on January 9 as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

In 2015 the Government of India revised the format of PBD and re-energized its engagement with the Indian Diaspora to enable sustained and more substantive engagement. Following the review, the PBD Convention will be held once in two years in a city outside Delhi. In the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD Conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora. It was decided that Indian Missions and Consulates will also celebrate PBD every year.

Through the first series of PBD Conferences which commenced in February 2016 the Government is proactively engaging with the Overseas Indians in an issue-based dialogue.

As a run up to PBD 2017, 10 PBD Conferences (panel discussions) have been held in 2016 on issues of importance to the Indian Diaspora. Domain experts from the Diaspora, and stakeholders and policy makers based in India have been invited for day-long deliberations on various topics. Their recommendations have been submitted to the Government of India for consideration. At the 14th PBD Convention in January 2017, each PBD Conference will present their recommendations, and the Action Taken Report to PBD delegates for their suggestions and comments.

The 14th PBD Convention January 2017:

PBD 2017 which will focus on the theme “Redefining engagement with the Indian Diasporawill

  • Provide a platform for connecting with the Diaspora.
  • Address issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora and seek their insights and suggestions.
  • Deepen engagement with the young Diaspora and reconnect them with their roots.
Background for Plenary Session II (i)
This Session on “Partnering with Diaspora to Accelerate Tourism in India will cover the gamut of issues relating to tourism and hospitality industry.

With over 1.1 billion global tourists in 2014 providing employment to 10 percent of workforce and contributing 10 percent to global GDP, tourism and hospitality industry is key growth driver, employment generator and source of foreign income.

India is at 52nd position worldwide in 2015 with 0.68 percent of global tourists and 0.25 percent of global tourism revenue. National Tourism Policy 2015 targets tourists inflow to reach 1 percent by 2020 and 2 percent by 2025.

Under the PBD 2016 Conference titled “Partnering with Diaspora to Accelerate Tourism in India organised on 30 April 2016 in New Delhi attended by domain experts from the diaspora, stakeholders and policy makers discussed topics ranging from connectivity, infrastructure, investment, marketing, training and role of Missions and Posts abroad in promoting tourism and engaging diaspora.
Chairperson, Gen (Dr.) V.K Singh said that tourism was making great strides globally and had the potential to resolve India’s unemployment problem. He invited the panellist to give suggestions on what India could do to develop tourist circuits (including spiritual and ecological circuits). He also invited views on how tourism could be encouraged to re-connect with their roots.

Some important recommendations made by the participants were:

  • India must be promoted as the “Must Visit, Re-Visit destination
  • Security, cleanliness and hospitality are important
  • Connectivity – air, rail and road- had played a key role in raising annual global FTA s from 2 million prior to 2000 to 8 million today.
  • Building airport infrastructure and enhancing regional connectivity to Tier 2 and 3 cities, introduction of semi-luxury trains is important
  • Increase number of hotel rooms as a demand-driven growth model
  • Private sector driven investment in tourism enabled by state governments promoting PPP model with Indian and diaspora investors
  • Resolution of consular issues, introduction of flexible multiple entry visas, self-regulation of hotel industry through FHRAI in accordance with industry global practises
  • Synergy between agencies promoting tourism
  • Segmented marketing approach, utilisation of digital space and social media to target the youth
  • Marketing, marketing, training and tourism research
  • Creating “Islands of Excellence as model tourism products
  • Missions and Posts could establish a tourism desk, create a diaspora database for micro-targeting, ensuring Sister City and Sister State agreement, have tourism as a prominent agenda.

The recommendations of the PBD Conference were submitted for consideration and follow up.

The Plenary Session at the 14th PBD will focus on the ways and methods through which the short-term and long-term recommendations could be realised with a focus on increasingly engaging Indian diaspora in the tourism sector. The central theme could be role of diaspora in promoting tourism and the ways they can be leveraged. The major areas of discussion would be:

  • Exploring Air connectivity between identified countries with high tourist traffics and long-term plan to devise special trains for tourist circuits by IRCTC
  • Public-Private Partnership for tourist infrastructure development and establishing single window mechanisms to facilitate and fast track investments.
  • Designing specific public Branding and Outreach campaigns such as constituting “Visit India committees in Indian embassies, state specific promotion campaigns and for long-term.
  • Mainstreaming several government initiatives such as ‘Swachh Bharat’ and others that directly impact tourism
  • Role of missions and Consulates abroad