India is the seventh largest country in the world. It is the land of culture, traditions and diversity. The astounding diversity of religions, cultures, and languages of India is unique and unparalleled. India is ranked 34th in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019.
The World Travel and Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated ₹13.2 lakh crore or 5.8% of India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and supported 32.1 million jobs in 2021. Tourism’s direct contribution to the GDP is expected to record an annual growth rate of 10.35% between 2019 and 2028.
However, spiritual tourism in India has emerged as a booming market. According to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), 23 crore tourist trips were taken in India. The largest portion of these trips was made of Pilgrimage trips.
Around 2.3 Crore devotees visited Tirupati, whose annual list of pilgrims is more than the travelers visiting Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkata all put together.
The famous Vaishno Devi temple in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir has been visited by 1.72 crore devotees.
These stats are enough to understand that spiritual tourism is important for India to grow. In this article you will read about Spiritual Tourism In India.
What is Spiritual Tourism ?
Spiritual tourism is defined as an act of traveling domestically or overseas to visit spiritual places. The spiritual places such as mosques, churches, and temples. It is done for spiritual reasons to fulfill the need for being grateful to almighty, forgiveness, and inner peace. India has opulent mosques and temples, stunning churches, serene monasteries, and magnificent gurudwaras. They make India truly a home to holiness. India should be no less than Vatican City to promote its spiritual tourism.
Government of India on Spiritual Tourism
The Central Government launched many campaigns to promote tourism in India globally. The campaigns were like Incredible India (2002), Atithi Devo Bhava (2005) and Incredible India 2.0 (2017). But the Government of India focused on Spiritual Tourism in 2014-15 when it launched PRASHAD Scheme.
The Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual and Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD Scheme) were set in motion under the Ministry of Tourism.
National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual and Heritage Augmentation Drive was launched in 2014 with an initial provision of INR 100 crores for that year.
The Scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India and promoting sustainable pilgrimage tourism in India. It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritized, planned, and sustainable manner to provide a real religious tourism experience. The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism.
The strategy also follows a comprehensive area development approach and aims to promote local art, culture, and cuisines that can further generate livelihood in the identified destinations. As of February 2022, a total of 37 projects have been sanctioned under the PRASHAD Scheme, of which 17 projects have been completed. The Ministry has also allotted an amount of INR 235 crores for the scheme this year.
However, it is not a sole mission launched for spiritual tourism. The PRASHAD Scheme links with other projects undertaken by the Union Government that facilitate tourism in India. Here is a list of some flagship missions.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme
Launched in 2014-15 with an objective of integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country, the Swadesh Darshan scheme follows community-based development and promotion of cultural and heritage value of India. Tourist circuits are defined routes having at least three major tourist destinations which are distinct and apart and must abide by the themes like ecotourism, wildlife, spiritual, Himalayan, Tribal, Heritage, etc. Out of the budget allocation provided for the year 2022-23, INR 1181.30 crore has been earmarked for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
Champion Service Sector Scheme
A sizable budget estimate of INR 101.54 crore has been issued to the Ministry of Tourism under this scheme. So far, the amount has been utilized in the creation of tourist infrastructures, promotion and marketing, and capacity-building programs in and around iconic sites. The scheme also extends financial incentives to Foreign Tour Operators for enhancing tourist arrival to India.
PM Gati Shakti
The National Master Plan for Multiple Nodal Connectivity will facilitate integrated and seamless movement of people, goods, and services across the nation. Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defense corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, Agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive. The Plan will pull forward not just the economy but will also play a role in boosting tourism in India with better connectivity and ease to travel efficiently.
Continuous and Comprehensive efforts
Continuous and comprehensive efforts made by the Ministry of External Affairs, international travel to India has become faster and safer for tourists. Easy visa policies have made travel more transparent and reliable. The visa-on-arrival scheme has played a significant role in encouraging inbound tourism.
Here is the list of Top 15 Countries who has visited India for Tourism in August 2022
- Bangladesh (24.89%)
- USA (16.93%)
- UK (10.74%)
- Australia (3.77%)
- Canada (3.44%)
- Sri Lanka (3.18%)
- Nepal (2.56%)
- Malaysia (2.54%)
- Germany (2.16%)
- France (2.01%)
- Oman (!.98%)
- Singapore (1.73%)
- UAE (1.45%)
- Italy (1.19%)
- Japan (1.17%)
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