In January 2024 picturesque images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reveling in the untouched beauty of the Lakshadweep Islands almost broke the internet. While the visuals conveyed a message of calm and tranquility, it simultaneously set a spark within diplomatic circles in the Maldives. Without digging deeper into the political row that arose from Narendra Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep, we hope to shift the perspective on the positive ripples that came into momentum when the Prime Minister of India chose to visit the islands on January 2, 2024.
If one was to simply look at the statistics available, the leader’s visit to Lakshadweep was catalytic as it led to a significant spike in Google searches within India and globally — one of the highest over the last 20 years. Travel platforms marked 3,400 per cent increase in searches for Lakshadweep, post PM Modi’s visit. There has been a notable wave among Indian businesses promoting local travel through their platforms and campaigns — over and above — international beach tourism reiterating the economy’s underlying faith in its potential to up level the domestic tourism sector. With the social media momentum Lakshadweep has already garnered, industry experts are confident the island will witness a robust future in tourism. Through stunning visuals of him snorkeling or walking down the sandy beaches, PM Modi shared a glimpse into the breathtaking beauty of this small union territory which travel businesses and travel vloggers are capitalising on in the digital and tourism space. Determined to give the island’s tourism business a solid impetus, new initiatives and tourism strategies are being brought into play.
In a bid to accelerate availability of rooms, the Tata Group plans to open two ‘world-class’ resorts on two Lakshadweep islands by 2026. The only airline currently flying to Lakshadweep has started additional flights and other airlines will begin services soon. Strengthening transportation, accommodation, and land-based infrastructure strategically will ensure Lakshadweep is well poised to embrace higher footfalls backed by tourist interests. Plans are also underway to improve airport facilities in the island to manage tourist inflow effectively.
A broad overview of India’s tourism sector highlights the travel market in the country is projected to reach $125 billion by financial year 2027 and international tourist arrival is expected to reach 30.5 million by 2028. Further it is estimated that India’s consumption of leisure and recreation is likely to double by 2030. Last year the ‘Visit India Year 2023’ programme was launched to capitalise on India’s heritage, culture and the diverse landscape and develop tourism — in a bid to streamline the slowdown caused due to Covid-19. India is also conscientiously positioning itself as a destination to host festivals and enhance meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourism.
Key factors driving the tourism growth
Cultural diversity – As a country enriched with various languages, religions, traditions and lifestyles, the Indian landscape piques global interest among travelers for its vibrant cultural hues.
Historical landmarks – Indian history is dominated by seamless influences from various countries and its remnants continue to stand strong in the country’s architectural and cultural landscape giving tourists a unique glimpse into the country’s history and how it shaped India’s future.
Adventure tourism – A growing space within Indian tourism is the popularity of adventure tourism that is drawing people towards the country’s diverse geography and cementing its position as an ideal destination for adventure activities like trekking, rafting, skiing, kayaking and more.
Medical tourism – A recent phenomenon in the tourism sector is medical tourism. The winning combination of advanced medical facilities combined with affordable healthcare rates and the diverse wellness offerings like Ayurveda are key factors driving spike in medical tourism within India.
It would not be incorrect to state that India’s focus on tourism mirrors the UAE’s streamlined focus on accelerating its tourism potential and delivering quality hospitality and leisure services aligned to global standards. Both nations have endorsed a philosophy of embracing and preserving cultural heritage sites and bringing into play eco-tourism initiatives in the last few years. The UAE Tourism Strategy 2031 includes 25 initiatives and policies to support the development of the UAE’s tourism sector. Key agenda of the strategy is to catapult tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP to Dh450 billion, with an annual increase of Dh27 billion and further attract Dh100 billion as additional tourism investments.
India and UAE embody solid values of economic partnership and growth that will shape the future of tourism to be bright and expansive powered by robust initiatives. Cementing the positions of both the countries as global destinations of preferred choice, positively hoping 2024 is the year of unstoppable growth for the India and UAE economy.
— James Mathew, FCA CPA (USA) is the CEO and Managing Partner at UHY James.
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