India offers myriad exciting experiences to tourists. Tourism industry in India is being utilised as a powerful tool to facilitate international understanding and enable building of broader cultural horizons. According to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2009 brought out by World Economic Forum, India is ranked 11th in the Asia-Pacific region and 62nd overall in a list of 133 assessed countries in 2008, up three places since 2007. In terms of travel, India stands 9th in the index of relative cost of access (ticket taxes and airport charges) to international air transport services, having almost the lowest costs in the world.
Also according to the report, India has been rated well for its natural resources (ranked 14th) and cultural resources (24th), with many World Heritage sites, both natural and cultural, rich fauna, and strong creative industries in the country. India also has quite a good air transport network (ranked 37th), particularly given the country’s stage of development, and a reasonable ground transport infrastructure (ranked 49th). India is ranked 7th in terms of number of World Heritage cultural sites, according to a UNESCO report (2008).
India is ranked 1st with regard to tourism fair attendance. Also, according to the International Congress and Convention Association, India is rated 33rd in terms of number of international fairs and exhibitions held in the country annually (average for 2006-07).
The World Travel and Tourism Report for 2009 for 180 countries worldwide also ranks the Indian Travel and Tourism economy 14th in absolute size worldwide, 144th in relative contribution to national economies and 5th in long-term (10-year) growth. The contribution of travel and tourism to gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to be at 6.0 per cent (US$ 67.3 billion) in 2009 rising to US$ 187.3 billion by 2019.
The report also states that real GDP growth for travel and tourism economy is expected to be 0.2 per cent in 2009 and to an average 7.7 per cent per annum over the coming 10 years. Export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected to generate 6.0 per cent of total exports (almost US$ 16.9 billion) in 2009, growing (nominal terms) to US$ 51.4 billion in 2019.