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Tourism is the easy option to boost the economy and create jobs

A recent report on the economic spin-off of a liberal visa regime asks an existential question of Indians. Why do we keep ignoring a low hanging fruit that would simultaneously answer many economic and social challenges and instead, pursue grandiose schemes?
A liberal visa regime could boost tourism and earn India $36 billion by 2020, says a report by World Tourism Organisation and World Travel and Tourism Council. It’s a sensible suggestion and must be followed as India’s potential to tap into this industry is enormous. So far, it has failed to do so. Tourist arrivals prove it. Tiny  Singapore had about 14.4 million tourist arrivals last year as against 6.65 million in India. India’s rich heritage and geographical diversity present perfect initial conditions to draw in tourists. This must be supplemented with an improvement in infrastructure and a clever tax regime. The result will be a boost for the  economy and many new jobs oriented towards the young and women.
Tourism is the low hanging fruit that gets a lot of bang for the buck. Government numbers show that it creates 78 jobs for an investment of a million rupees, as against 45 jobs in manufacturing. The jobs span a large range of skill sets and usually draw in a lot of women. Tourism has the potential to quickly deal with two challenges. One, around 12 million young people who enter the job market every year get a chance to work and simultaneously upgrade their skills. Two, tourism can be a  foreign exchange earner that can help India fix its  balance of payments issues. Consider a third spin-off benefit: it may be less polluting than manufacturing or even agriculture.

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