Viksit Bharat: Why tourism sector plays key role

We explain the various facets of Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget's vision of the tourism sector — that can play a key role in the making of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047 .

Processor Intelligence Unit
New Update

The mention of Lakshadweep in interm budget is of particular significance, especially considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the archipelago in January. Photo cortesy — incredibleindia (Instagram)

NEW DELHI: In addition to domestic tourism, India’s diversity is known to a global audience. 

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the interim budget 2024-25 in Parliament, laid emphasis on comprehensive development of tourist centers for achieving the vision of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047.

We explain the various facets of her vision of the tourism sector — that can play a key role in the making of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047 — along with the growth of the sector in recent years by focusing on the number game. 


Sitharaman suggests that the exposure of India's diverse culture and economic strength during the international meetings has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism. 

This aligns with the idea that hosting major international events — such as G20 — not only enhances a country's global image but also promotes tourism and business opportunities.

The vision of Viksit Bharat in relation to the tourism sector can be understood in two key elements: iconic tourist centres and domestic tourism. 


Sitharaman has emphasized the encouragement of states to undertake the comprehensive development of iconic tourist centers, with a focus on branding and global-scale marketing. 

She also mentioned the provision of long-term interest-free loans to states, on a matching basis, to finance such development initiatives. 

The Union minister highlighted the intention to establish a framework for rating these centers based on the quality of facilities and services, aiming to promote their holistic development.


The FM has underscored the growing aspirations of India's middle class to travel and explore, emphasizing the significant opportunities for local entrepreneurship in tourism, including spiritual tourism.

In furtherance of this, she has announced plans to address the increasing enthusiasm for domestic tourism by initiating projects focused on port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities across various islands, including Lakshadweep. 

The objective is to boost employment through these initiatives.


The mention of Lakshadweep is of particular significance, especially considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the archipelago in January. 

This visit, coupled with subsequent controversies with the Maldives, garnered significant attention to the Lakshadweep islands. 

Over the last decade, tourism in Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands has remained relatively low. 

While improved infrastructure and enhanced connectivity have attracted more visitors to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep has experienced fewer such developments. 

The current focus on tourism projects and infrastructure development in Lakshadweep aims to address this disparity.


A | In the interim budget for 2024, Sitharaman has earmarked ₹2,449.62 crore for the tourism sector, marking a notable 44.7% increase compared to the revised figure for the current fiscal year. 

B | This marks a positive departure from the 2023 Union Budget, where the initial allocation for the tourism ministry stood at ₹2,400 crore and was later revised to ₹1,692.10 crore.

C | Notably, the travel and tourism sector made a substantial contribution of 15.7 lakh crore to India's economy in 2022. 

D | Projections indicate that this sector is poised to generate employment for 137 million people and contribute an additional $250 billion to the GDP by the year 2030.

E | According to ET, which cited international brokerage firm Jefferies, tourism contributed $194 billion to FY19 (pre-Covid) GDP and is expected to grow at an 8% CAGR to $443 billion by FY33. 

Tourism-to-GDP ratio in India, at 6.8% of GDP, puts it below most of the large emerging/developed economies, the global brokerage firm said.

F | As per Press Information Bureau figures, foreign tourists arrival (FTAs) numbers (in million) from 2019 till 2023 (Jan –Sep) are: 10.93; 2.74; 1.52; 6.44 and 6.43. 

Foreign Exchange Earning (FEEs) — in crore — for the same period are: 216467, 50136, 65070, 139935, 1,66,660. 

This information was given by Union minister for culture, tourism and DoNER G Kishan Reddy in LoK Sabha in December 2023.

G | Foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India have gone from 2,889 (in US$ million) in 1997 to 28,586, 30,058 and 6,958 in 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

H | According to a travel blog post published by, India drew in 8.6 million foreign tourists in February 2023 alone. With 10.9 million international arrivals in 2019 and 6.98 million non-resident Indian arrivals, India beat out major tourist destinations like South Korea, Egypt, and Australia to be the 22nd most visited country in the world. 2020’s slump saw only 3 million visitors, but they bounced back in 2022 with 6.19 million visitors. 

I | The World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021 ranked India 54th out of 117 countries overall.

J | The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 7.8% to Rs 33.8 lakh crore (US$420 billion) by 2031 (7.2% of GDP).

K | Foreign and domestic tourist visits by states for top four states in numbers (in millions) as per 2022 data: Gujarat 1.78; Maharashtra 1.51; West Bengal 1.04; Delhi 0.82. 

L | Writing for The Times Of India, Harsimarbir Singh, co-founder, Pristyn Care, said in 2022: India has established itself as the 5th largest global medical value travel destination with an estimated market size of around $9 billion in 2019. He adds: "Currently, the medical tourism market in India is worth $6 billion and it is expected to expand to $13 billion by 2026." The medical sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21.1% from 2020 to 2027, he said, suggesting, "To become the number one medical travel destination, there is a need for significant investments into making the healthcare industry attractive for international patients."

M | Forbes magazine has ranked India as the 7th most beautiful country in 'The 50 Most Beautiful Countries In The World' rankings.