India, as the home to 5,000 year old civilisation, has immense potentialities as tourist destination. But even this distinction of rich cultural heritage, historical legacy and geographical diversity, which only few countries in the world can claim to share, has failed to earn India the most favoured nation status. Against the tourist flow of 7 million that Singapore has, India could attract only 3.3 million foreign tourists in 2005. And that figure becomes pittance when compared to 9.6 of Thailand and 11.5 million of Malaysia.
Despite the 'Atithi Devo Bhava' campaign launched by the Ministry of Tourism, the truth remains that India has failed to be a tourist friendly nation. Of the several complaints any tourist visiting India has, the most important one pertains to the cleanliness (or the lack of it). Disfigured walls, names written on historical monuments, nagging beggars are among several that carry an extremely negative image. A look at the travel advisory issued by the American embassy can be a bit unnerving to any self respecting Indian. The maximum content of advisory relates to ways and means to prevent a crook from cheating the visitors.
While there are no reasons to disbelieve, Tourism Ministry slated objectives to double tourist inflow in the country (at least in theory), they would remain only a pipe-dream if core corrections are not made at the earliest.