The tourism sector stands at Rs. 14.02 lakh crore industry in India, as of 2016; comprising of about 9.6% of India’s GDP. India, which ranks 24th in International Tourist Arrivals, has seen a major lift of 16 places in the latest UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) rankings. While, as the growing belief suggests, sports in India is still an untapped potential opportunity, needing attention.
In the past, India has greatly failed in shaping sports as an important economic sector; lacking a unifying vision for developing sports infrastructure and training. Globally, the sports industry is an estimated 37.8-44.2 lakh crore industry. Last year, in India, sports sponsorships saw a positive curve, reaching the figure of Rs. 6,400 crore. Kabbadi and hockey have seen major revenue shares – after cricket at no.1 – with an increasing potential to attract further streams for growth, both financially and culturally.
International relations and collaborations, both public and private, have been on the rise under the leadership of BJP government. And, on his recent visit to Germany, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi mentioned about the growing relationship between the two countries and, how it could benefit sports: “Cooperation is also envisaged in the sports arena, particularly in football.” Recent interests from countries such as Fiji and growing culture of sports tourism in India has brought a fresh outlook. In an interview with The Drum, Vijay Goel, Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports mentioned, “We aim to empower Indian sports through sports tourism as well.”
“Sports is no longer fun, it’s a serious business,” said Vijay Goel. The growing popularity of franchise based leagues has brought focus on sports as a real potential. An area, which can prove to be of significant importance in the future. But India is far away from being a sporting nation, or a country that benefits from its past glory or a strong grassroots structure; simply because India does not possess either of it. Despite growing viewership and sponsorship figures, performances remain a major problem.
Brazil, host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, benefited from the tournament’s global reach and approach. For Brazil, the World Cup was a giant advertisement through which they could promote their real potential to the global market. “Playing host will immediately raise the global profile of a country and might even change perceptions of the host nation, resulting in increased tourism and political benefits and alliances, but accrue over many years,” said Walter Boettcher, chief economist at Colliers International.
India has always been a country, who has never been short on potential. The “Incredible India” theme was showcased to the global audience at the Commonwealth Games, and during the same time, the nation saw a 9.2% increase in tourism. As hosts of Asian Games, cricket and hockey world cups in the past, India has seen a steady growth in sports tourism and hospitality. (India co-hosted the Cricket World Cup with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh)
According to a KPMG report: “Sports is primarily a state subject, and a huge portion of the sports infrastructure is owned and managed by state governments. The role of private sector is limited to Public Private Partnership (PPP), for-profit academies and corporate social responsibility/non-profit initiatives.
“There is a need for greater involvement of the private sector. PPPs can help government fast-track infrastructure development; therefore, it is imperative to create favourable policies to attract private investment.”
The path for India is not an easy one, but it has never been. Infrastructure development is the baseline problem, but areas of governance and attitude towards sports is equally important. In a span of four months, India will host the FIFA World Cup U-17. The international tournament will present India with yet another opportunity to showcase itself on the global platform and to an ever wider audience.
Vijay Goel is confident about India’s recent plans to overhaul the sporting landscape with initiatives such as ‘Khelo India’ and ‘Mission XI Million’. Goel emphasizes on introducing sports as an integral part of school curriculums and adds, “I’m sure we shall soon, become a sporting superpower which will lead to global investments and create of sports culture across the country.”
About the Author
Balbir Singh Aulakh is a 20-year-old Mass Media graduate, who is an extremely passionate writer about football. He has past experience of covering Indian football for Football Counter as a Sports Correspondent. He is a contributor at TheHardTackle and possesses experience working in electronic and digital media. Based in Mumbai, he aims to pursue his Master’s degree in Public Policy. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author in his personal capacity and do not in any way represent the views of any entity, organisation that the author may have been associated with.
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