Position this – A) A country with 400 National parks, 70 wildlife sanctuaries, 4000 year old History, the greatest mountain range in the word, the best whitewater rapids in the world, a subtropical coastline that is an envy of the world, and pearly islands that can compete with the Hawaiis of the world, a topography with practically every kind of variation earth has to offer, cuisine that has pervaded the nook and corner of the world, and much more.., also the largest democracy in the world – gets a paltry 4.4 million tourists a year.

And B) an island which is less than than 0.01% of the above country in size gets 7.5 million.

A) India B)Singapore.

Why? See www.incredibleindia.org for some more and you might wonder India should be as much compelling destination as any other, isnt.

No single reason , but the Government by large should hold the credit for this (lack of) achievement.  In 1960’s and Tourism in India was ranked somewhere as 126th or 127th on the priority list of industries for development, lower than the industry development of lighthouses!

Awareness has grown, and perhaps the priority, but even in the current context, poor project and funds management at the ground level, lack of accountability, political problems, infrastructure arent helping turn things around.

I was just reading P Chidambram’s essays in his book “A view from outside” in which he cites N.R. Narayana Murthy’s assertion that the Taj Mahal, and what its symbolism represents a $20 Bn opportunity for India and employment. Simple math as quoted in the book – there are 200 Mn couples in developed nations. Even if 10% of them decide to spend their anniversary by the Taj in the typical 2 night, 3 day model, that at about a $1000 spend per couple can be a $20 Bn opportunity. Imagine adding to that a cruise by a resurrected Yamuna by Taj, then some more perhaps.  And then add up all the features mentioned earlier, each is a huge opportunity by its own right.

Pipe dream perhaps. Its not about a desire to do it,  only when things get down to ground it becomes a game of oneupmanship, egos,  red tape, sloth, jurisdictions – in corporate speak – misaligned KPIs and  institutionalized mediocrity.  As things stand no reform in the present government either seems headed in a direction, to suggest things will be any better in near or far future.