Tourism is among India's important export industries. Even with comparatively low levels of international tourist traffic, tourism has emerged as an important segment of the Indian economy. According to a study, India's tourism industry is poised to grow to about USD 90 billion - from the current USD 39 billion - in the coming decade.
People usually travel for business and pleasure, but over the last decade, the nature of tourism has developed in scope and direction, away from these traditional activities to a wide range of new activities such as sports and leisure, adventure tourism, and eco-tourism.
The usually friendly and informal atmosphere in a tourism and travel organisation attracts people who like dealing with other people. The varied opportunities demand people with excellent organisation skills. Individuals who are imaginative/ creative in solving problems, can offer excellent customer service, possess excellent communication skills, enjoy working with a wide variety of people, are detail oriented, able to work long or unusual hours and on holidays, who are tuned to social customs and etiquette and can meet deadlines under stressful conditions can do well in this industry.
Empathy, computer literacy, efficiency in the use of office technology, and electronic communication, and being multi-lingual is an asset. Being a team player, good organisational skills, smart presentation and grooming and flexibility are other important attributes.
Education and training
Training in ticketing and reservation and diploma courses can start after class 12 as also Bachelor of Tourism Studies/ Tourism Management. Postgraduate Diploma courses in Travel and Tourism and postgraduate degree courses in Travel and Tourism Administration or Travel Administration offer career prospects with further growth prospects. Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India has authorised the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management to conduct the Regional Level Guide Training.
Placements / prospects
Travel and tourism is a big employment generator. One could work for airlines, car hire firms, cruise ships, events management, government tourism departments, tourism information bureaus, travel agencies, and specialist service providers. The cost advantage with no compromise on the quality of service makes India a preferred destination for medical treatment.
Tour guides work freelance, governed by the rules and regulations laid down by the Government of India.
Tour escorts manage an itinerary on behalf of the tour operator and gives local practical information, ensuring the programme is carried out as described in the literature and sold to the traveller/consumer.
Travel agents are expected to have answers to all possible questions concerning the shortest route to the destination, travel mode, the important documents like visa, passport, etc, suitable places to stay, current exchange rates, tourist spots to visit, climate and special needs. A travel agency has separate departments for Accounts, Tours, Travel and Cargo.
In a large fully functional travel agency or a travel corporation, there would be accountants, lawyers, as well as MBAs. Foreign language experts or individuals with multi lingual skills are also in demand for the industry.
India has the distinction of offering various categories of tourism, be it adventure tourism, medical tourism (Ayurveda and other forms of Indian medications), wellness tourism, spiritual tourism, eco-tourism, heritage tourism, beach tourism (India has the longest coastline in the East), rural tourism, wildlife tourism, etc.
(The writer is a renowned education consultant)