India has moved up by three notches to 65th out of 140 countries in terms of the competitiveness of the travel and tourism industry, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has said.
According to the fifth Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report by the WEF, India has been ranked in the 11th place in the region and 65th overall, gaining three positions since the last edition.
"As with China, India is well assessed for its natural resources (nineth) and cultural resources (24th), with many natural and cultural World Heritage sites, rich fauna, many fairs and exhibitions, and strong creative industries," the report said.
Among the other emerging market economies, however, India was ranked below its peers, as Brazil was placed 51st, Russia 63rd and China 45th.
"India also has quite good air transport (39th), particularly given the country's stage of development, and reasonable ground transport infrastructure (42nd), although the quality of roads and of ports require further improvement," the report said.
The WEF report noted India is also a relatively price competitive destination (20th), even in the regional context.
The report however, said that some aspects of its tourism infrastructure remain somewhat underdeveloped, with very few hotel rooms per capita by international comparison and low ATM penetration.
Another area of concern is the policy environment, which is ranked 125th because of the long time and high costs required to start a business and a restrictive visa policy.
Other areas requiring attention are health and hygiene standards (109th) and the country's human resources base.
Switzerland, Germany and Austria lead the world in terms of their travel and tourism industry competitiveness. They are followed by Spain, United Kingdom, United States, France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore.
The report highlighted the potential of the travel and tourism industry to boost economic resilience and job creation and said that initiatives such as smart visa policies are seen as critical for industry to maintain growth momentum.
"The travel and tourism industry has weathered the global downturn and is now playing an important role in helping tackle serious global challenges, including youth unemployment, economic development and environmental sustainability," World Economic Forum director, head of aviation, travel and tourism industries Thea Chiesa said.
Chiesa further noted that "the challenge for the industry and its stakeholders today is to maintain this powerful contribution to economic growth and employment".
The international position that India holds has been reflected in its revenue system as well. Foreign exchange earnings (FEE) from tourism have gone up by more than 19 per cent in February as compared to the same period last year. Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) also showed a growth of 1.6% in February 2013 over February 2012.