A converge of several factors, such as a steady growth on the domestic front, the labour-intensive nature of the tourism industry and an enabling policy framework are supporting the growth of the tourism sector in Gujarat, says Vipul Mitra, Additional Chief Secretary, Labour & Employment Department, Government of Gujarat. In an exclusive interview, he shares his thoughts on tourism and its impact on economic growth.
How is tourism an employer in your state? Is there a profile? How many jobs it creates and what type?
Tourism and tourism-related activities are a rapidly growing phenomenon in Gujarat and account for a share of the growth of Gujarat’s economy. Tourism is a complex set of industries which includes accommodation, recreation and entertainment, food and beverage services, transportation, and travel services. It encompasses domestic, inbound, and outbound travel for business, leisure, or other purposes. Though tourism is growing, tourism-related employment remains fragmented. This factor, coupled with the fact that tourism not only generates primary employment but secondary and tertiary employment, it becomes difficult to put an exact number on the jobs it creates.
However, tourist visitation per annum can a good indicator of the state’s ability to attract tourists, and therefore, can be a reliable indicator of the trend in the jobs it creates. As per IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation), Gujarat Tourism is still growing at 17% per annum, far higher than the national average. Also, Gujarat caters to a wide array of tourist in the form of spiritual sites, heritage tourism, wildlife, natural ecosystems, heritage circuits, beaches and MICE. The number of hotels which includes international brands like Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt, Novotel, Radisson, etc. have also come up in Gujarat.
With all these factors in perspective, it can be safely inferred that tourism is not only an employer but a rapidly growing industry. GITCO (Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation Limited) estimates that approximately 3.00 million people will be employed in the tourism sector by 2025.
What is tourism’s status among other industries? In ranking etc.?
Tourism requires close partnerships between governments, the private sector and communities. It is perhaps the only sector which has a very elaborate and multiple backward and forward linkages with other segments of the economy like infrastructure, transport, construction, environment, water resources, etc. Current trends and growth projections at the Global, National and State level reinforce the immense potential of tourism as a noteworthy contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment.
Can tourism provide more jobs and how?
Tourism is extremely labour intensive and a significant source of employment. It is among the world’s top creators of jobs requiring varying degrees of skills and allows for quick entry into the workforce for youth, women and migrant workers. Tourism and hospitality industries create many employment opportunities in different areas like accommodations, transportation, food, handicraft, etc. These are jobs that require the traditional hands-on approach and are immune to technologies like AI. If you take the example of the hotel sector, it provides on average one employee per room. Add to this, employees like guides, drivers, gardeners and laundry staff and that number rises to four. And around half of all employees in a hotel, catering, and hospitality sector, are under the age of 25. And with Gujarat growing at a steady rate, the numbers of jobs are poised to grow proportionately.
What is the government doing to provide more skills in this sector?
To leverage the tremendous employment potential in the tourism sector, training and skill development courses for tourist service providers and locals with a special focus on youth, women, differently-abled and SC/ST categories are be imparted through various stakeholders by Government of Gujarat. Labour and Employment Department provides inputs on various its facets as and when required.
Upgradation of IT skills in a major initiative undertaken to upgrade the IT skills required for the travel trade. Many other incentives like reimbursement of course fees, monthly stipends to Tourist Guides, etc are being offered by the Government of Gujarat.