Domestic tourism is a powerful economic activity. It holds the potential to bridge the urban-rural divide in our state. We live in a very beautiful state, with range of tourism options - leisure, pilgrimage, nature, history or health/medical. Karnataka has a tourism ministry, but its performance and focus on domestic tourism is largely unchecked and not monitored. There don't seem to be many state-level small-town and environment friendly yet convenient and well thought out policies in the play.
How important could domestic tourism be in bridging the Bangalore-Karnataka or larger urban-rural divide? I can't find good numbers at Karnataka level, but we can pick some from NSSO's recent report on Domestic tourism, survey data is from 2008-2009. Assuming the average numbers hold good for Karnataka:
- An average urban household makes 3.65 overnight trips per year. 71% of the time, the main purpose is "social visits"
- So roughly, urban households makes 1.05 overnight trips per year
- Proportion of other purposes are like this: 12% pilgrimage, 5% leisure/recreation, 3.5% health/medical
Since the avg will be across multiple types of cities, let us raise these for Bangalore. So as households, all of us added, we might be
- Making 5 overnight trips per year (5 x average)
- 60% (3 of 5) for non social purpose (about 2 x average)
How weak are these numbers? on an avg, only 3 times an year, we head out of our cities to see our state (for simplicity, let us assume overnight trip is in-state). Now, to do some more numbers
- If expenditure per trip is assumed to be about Rs 10000 on average (NSSO report says avg spend per overnight trip ranges from Rs 3K - 7K depending on purpose, take higher number for Bangalore)
- Assuming 15 lakh households in Bangalore Metro region, 3 trips per year = 45 lakh trips
- Total money spent in in these trips = Rs 4500 crore per year
We may mostly be visiting Mysore/Mangalore like cities, not rural areas, so the number is on the higher side, Only Rs 4500 crore per year! At 2 lakh/year salaries, only about 2.25 lakh jobs.
What if the trip counts were doubled, to 6 per year? What if there were more spend avenues, to take per trip spend to be higher? How does 2 lakh more jobs sound to you?
Data have used above has extrapolations. But hope I am getting the picture of its implications right. If yes, then is it time to figure out what should the tourism ministry do to get us out more often on domestic trips?
PS: I have ignored the same-day trip data from NSSO report, will put those up in a comment a bit later. Got to run now.