As the world moves forward, digital transformation will be a critical driver of growth: Amitabh Kant


‘$1 Trillion Tourism Economy – Technology as an enabler’ was the key theme at the conference

Tourism will be a key driver of growth. India is the fifth largest economy in the world and is expanding to be the third largest. Digital transformation has been one of the key drivers of India’s economic growth, said Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, at the India Tourism Conference organised by ASSOCHAM. He added that every Indian has a digital identity, from 2015 to 2017 about 500 million bank accounts have been opened or 55% of all the bank accounts opened in the world. The seeding of these bank accounts with digital identities has made the mobile a virtual bank. India’s digital payments are about 11 times of Europe & America and four times of China. “We do 46% of the real-time digital payments in the world.

India has the opportunity to take its learnings to the world as digital transformation will be a critical driver of growth going forward. Tourism is not only a driver of growth, it is also a driver of job creation. When India turns 100 in 2047, it will still be the youngest country in the world with the average age of the population at around 30. We will be the provider of almost 25% of the workforce in the world,” he said. 

“Nature of travel and tourism has changed, from the British and American in the 50s to the Japanese in the ’70s, Koreans in the ’90s and the Chinese in the 2000s. The 2030s and 40s will be the era of Indian travellers which will redefine the world. It is also important for India to build unique experiences around the country so that Indians can re-discover India. From Bali to NY to Switzerland, Indians are becoming the key drivers of hospitality in many ways. There cannot be a better sector to create jobs than travel and tourism. It has a massive direct and indirect multiplier impact, along with job creation, handloom, handicraft and culture all benefits. India is unique and should be positioned as an experiential, sustainable and green destination,” Kant reiterated.

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“We are passing through turbulent times in the post-covid era with almost 200 million people having gone below the poverty lines and about 100 million people losing jobs. One-third of the world is in recession according to the IMF and 75 countries are facing a global debt crisis. Then there is the need for climate action and climate finance and if we are to miss the 1.5 degrees centigrade target by 2050, the earth may survive but humans will go extinct. We are midway through the Sustainable development goals and the world has regressed instead of progressing.

But every challenge is an opportunity to do radical things and restructure the world and take it forward. Despite various differences, we all come from one cosmic web and poverty in one part of the world has an implication for another part of the world. It is important that when leaders of the world meet, India sends out a message of peace and progress with humanity at the centre stage,” he added.

Delivering the Keynote address, Alfred F Kelly Jr, Executive Chairman, Visa Inc said, “The travel and tourism industry has always been a crucial sector in the world economy, facilitating family visits, turning dreams into reality, and creating lifelong memories for people. Pre-pandemic, it accounted for 10% of global GDP and generated over 320 million jobs worldwide. With most pandemic concerns now behind us, the sector is poised to play a pivotal role in driving the recovery of the global economy.

As borders reopened and restrictions relaxed, Asia-Pacific has rebounded to 46% of its 2019 levels and 64% excluding China and Hong Kong as destinations. India is outpacing popular destinations in the region, including Australia, Japan, and Thailand, having received 6.2 million visitors in 2020. The rebound in visitor numbers is on track to fully recover in mid-2024.”

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Earlier, welcoming attendees at the summit, Shri Ajay Singh, President, ASSOCHAM & CMD, SpiceJet said, “India is an exciting place to be, hitting the 100000 crore mark in GST collections has been a cause for celebration and in April 2023, we hit 187000 crores. This massive rise in the collection indicates robust growth that is taking place in the economy. A $1 trillion tourism economy seemed like a pipe dream but in this emergent India, no dream is too big. A $5 trillion economy by 2025 might have sounded aspirational in the beginning but now it looks eminently feasible and we might even surpass that goal. One of the wonderful things that have happened out of the Covid challenge is that Indians discovered their own country. We used to talk about 10 million tourist arrivals as a goal and that goal will be met, but 700 million Indians got a chance during covid to see their own country.”

‘$1 Trillion Tourism Economy – Technology as Enabler’ was the key theme at the conference. An engaging panel discussion on the theme was the key highlight where important stakeholders and industry stalwarts such as Anurag Arora, Co-Chair, National Tourism Council, ASSOCHAM & SVP & Global Lead, Indian Government Business, VFS Global, Mohit Gopal, Chief Operating Officer – PayU, Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), Lokendra Saini, Chief Operating Officer, and Viney Tyagi, Hony Joint Secretary, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) were the key contributors.