Travel and tourism is probably the world's largest industry. Its gross annual global turnover of around US $ 2 trillion exceeds the GNP of most countries other than the USA and Japan. It is inter-functional in its operations-overlapping various industries like hospitality, leisure, surface transport, civil aviation and communications.
Being a service based industry, it is also interconnected with innumerable other areas. It involves, broadly, getting people to and from their destinations and organizing their stay there. The main reasons for travel today are leisure, business and government work-the first two providing the majority of the industry's clientele.
Greatly increased worldwide mobility in recent years has made the wants and needs proportionately more complex and exacting. The industry, in response, has had to professionalise and specialize in its services-introducing a range of multi-disciplinary skills to meet these requirements.
Besides promoting cultural understanding, tourism is responsible for the generation of diverse and widespread economic activity. Investments aggregating around US $ 1 trillion in goods, facilities and equipment, made every year by travel and tourism companies, are higher than in any other sector. Its beneficial `multiplier' effect, through spin-offs local business and industry, has made it a catalyst for development in many places.
With proper management, it is environment-friendly enabling the transfer of vast sums of money from generating to receiving economies without the depletion of the host country's natural resources. Most of all, it is employment intensive. Worldwide, one in every sixteen persons earns a living from travel and tourism.
For these reasons, the Indian Government is making efforts to expand tourism in the country. At present, its growth rate at 5.5 per cent is lower than in most South East Asian countries.
Official recognition of its status as an industry in India is also still awaited.
However, travel and tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner among all our industries, and currently provides direct employment to over fifty lakh people. The number is likely to increase with massive plans for future expansion, creating a demand for skilled, trained personnel in various spheres of the industry.
Many women work in different capacities and at all levels in the industry, some even heading their own agencies. Young people with drive and a capacity for hard work can rise to top positions very quickly in travel and tourism where achievement is the key to success.