Post the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in domestic tourism in India. This trend is expected to continue as more Indians will explore their own country,” said Anil Prashar, a senior member of the Advisory Committee at the Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) and President and CEO InterGlobe Technology Quotient.
According to Prashar, India’s rich cultural and historical heritage continued to attract tourists, even as heritage sites, festivals, and cultural events remained popular among tourists. “The adventure and eco-tourism interest is growing in tourists seeking unique experiences such as trekking, wildlife safaris, and sustainable tourism options,” he said, while listing the strong travel trends that emerged in 2023.
There has been considerable growth in Medical Tourism. “India is becoming a hub for medical tourism, with patients from around the world seeking high-quality healthcare services at a fraction of the cost in their home countries,” he said.
In hospitality, India saw an impressive increase in the demand for luxury and boutique hotels as discerning travellers looked for unique and premium experiences.Digitisation has played a big role in the development of the travel and tourism industry in India. “The industry is becoming increasingly digital, with more travellers using online platforms to research, book accommodations, and plan their trips. This shift was driving investments in online travel agencies and digital marketing,” he said.
Challenges in tourism and hospitality sector in India:
According to Prashar, issues with transportation, sanitation, and accessibility to remote areas are among the top challenges related to infrastructure development in many tourist destinations.
The other challenges, according to him, include:
- Regulatory Challenges: The industry has to deal with regulatory hurdles, such as taxation issues and complex licensing processes.
- Seasonal Nature: Tourism in India tends to be seasonal, with most tourists visiting during specific times of the year. This creates challenges in maintaining consistent revenue streams throughout the year.
- Environmental Concerns: As tourism grew, concerns about its impact on the environment and cultural heritage increased. Sustainable tourism practices were becoming more critical.
- Safety and Security: Ensuring the safety and security of tourists, especially female travellers, was a challenge that needed attention.
- Competitive Market: The tourism and hospitality sector in India is highly competitive, with various players vying for market share. This competition can sometimes lead to pricing pressures.
Role of THSC in addressing skill gaps in the tourism and hospitality industry in India:
The Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council (THSC) played a crucial role in addressing these gaps by promoting skill development and training in the sector, said Prashar. “It works to develop National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Qualification Packs (QPs) for different job roles in tourism and hospitality, and facilitates training programmes and certifications to bridge the skills gap and enhance the employability of individuals,” he said.
According to him, a lot of training programmes in the tourism and hospitality industry are outdated and do not meet the needs of the current market. THSC works with industry partners to update QP’s to meet their requirements, he said.
“Many people are not aware of the opportunities available in the tourism and hospitality industry. This is especially true among young people, who may be more focused on pursuing traditional career paths such as engineering or medicine. Through social media we create awareness about employment opportunities in the industry,” he shared.
How THSC addresses these gaps:
The THSC works with the industry to develop and implement skill standards and training programmes that meet the needs of the market, Prashar shared.
And as the THSC works to address the skill gaps in the tourism and hospitality industry, there is high focus on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Programmes. “Over 6 lakhs informal workers have been certified under this,” he shared. “We have created over 500 Training Centres for providing skill training to the urban and rural youth. Out of these, 150 centres are offering student-funded programmes that are directly linked with industry by providing employment or apprenticeship. We are working closely with Industry, Districts and Training Partners to understand the aspiration of local youth and train them in those job roles only,” he said.
Additionally, THSC supports and extensively promotes Apprenticeship under NAPS, a scheme of Government of India. “So far, THSC has registered over 2500 Industry units in apprenticeship, who have recruited over 45,000 candidates as apprentices in THSC job roles within their organisations,” he shared.
On the Recruit-Train-Deploy front, THSC has initiated RTD model for the industry to further bridge the Demand-Supply Gap. “This programme has already been undertaken by a few Industry Partners, training over 5,000 candidates in the next couple of years,” he said.
To offer skill programmes under higher education, THSC has partnered with over 130 universities to offer 3-Year degree programmes. “Every year, more than 4000 Undergraduate/Graduate students go through these programmes. So far, more than 15,000 students have already been trained and certified. This year, we plan to add 30 more Universities and it is expected that more than 6000 students will undergo courses in these universities,” he shared.
In schools too, Each year, more than 30,000 school students take up skilling courses introduced by THSC and since inception, more than 90,000 candidates have already been certified, he said.
How businesses can contribute to addressing skill gaps in the industry:
Investing in employee training and development: “Businesses can invest in training and development programmes to improve the skills and knowledge of their employees. This can be done through internal training programmes, external courses, and online resources,” he said.
“Additionally, businesses can offer apprenticeships to give young people the opportunity to learn about the tourism and hospitality industry and gain the skills they need for a career in the sector. At the same time, they can partner with educational institutions to develop and implement training programmes that meet the needs of the industry,” he pointed out.
Emerging trends, technologies that affect skill requirements in tourism and hospitality:
“It is important to note that the industry is highly dynamic, and new trends and technologies may have emerged since then,” he said. According to him, some of the trends and technologies that are crucial in shaping skill requirements include:
- The adoption of digital technologies, including mobile apps for reservations, contactless check-ins, and digital concierge services, was changing the way guests interacted with hotels and travel services. Hospitality professionals needed to be proficient in using technology and ensuring a seamless guest experience through digital channels.
- Data analytics and AI-driven tools were being used to personalize guest experiences, from customized recommendations to dynamic pricing strategies. Skills in data analysis, AI, and customer relationship management (CRM) were becoming valuable for creating tailored experiences.
- AR and VR technologies are being used for virtual tours, immersive experiences, and marketing in the tourism sector. Proficiency in AR and VR content creation and utilization is in demand for marketing and enhancing guest experiences.
- Automation and robots are being used for tasks such as cleaning, room service, and customer service in hotels. Knowledge of robotics and the ability to work alongside automated systems are becoming increasingly valuable.
Government support to skill development efforts in the tourism and hospitality sector:
“THSC as an industry body, works closely with the Central Ministry and State Govts in identifying major Tourism and Hospitality job roles that are high in demand,” said Prashar.
“This year, the Central Govt. has considered 20 job roles in the tourism and hospitality sector under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana scheme (PMKVY) 4.0,” he shared, adding, “It has also taken an initiative to promote the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS). For the same, we have created more than 20 course curriculums for different job roles for promoting apprenticeship PAN India”.