Since 2006, the Ministry of Tourism is implementing a relatively less-known scheme called ‘Hunar se Rozgar’ meaning skill to employment. This is primarily aimed at catching the school dropouts and training them for employment or self-employment. The scheme runs on a small budget of around ₹30 crore.

It was conceived as a six to eight week free training programme for those in the 18-28 years age bracket, with expert institutes picked in this regard. Star hotels are expected to train a minimum number of persons. While every effort is being made to bring the unorganised sector into mainstream employment by giving necessary skilling, a large gap exists in employment of the youth. The scheme currently attracts people mainly in the northern States.

The government needs to take more measures to popularise the scheme so that more agencies come up to assist in implementing it in a holistic manner. Let us quickly go through a SWOT analysis of the scheme before arriving at conclusions:

Strengths: The strength of the scheme is its fancy nomenclature and the very essence and principle of this scheme. This name evinces lot of interest.

Weakness: The scheme suffers bureaucratic delays and procrastination tactics adopted by both the government as well as private institutions. This may need to be looked into by the stakeholders and to ensure that the processes are streamlined through an online portal.

Further, information, education and communication (IEC) activities in the form of due publicity and awareness programmes need to be scaled up. Indian language media needs to be used widely to boost the IEC mechanism.

Given the various check points, many institutions do not show interest, as the guidelines are made in such a way that the scheme’s implementation is possible only in government institutions such as Tourist Management Institutions, Hotel Management Institutions and other similar institutions.

Moreover, recently the scheme guidelines have been revised to allow payment only after implementation of training.

Further, the payment mechanism is in two stages i.e. 80 per cent upon completion of the training and distribution of completion certifications and the balance 20 per cent is being paid upon provision of employment/self-employment to the youth who have undergone capacity building training. This was not the case earlier where the payment mode was 40:40:20.

Opportunities: Hunar se Rozgar is a pathbreaking scheme. It enables the less educated youth to go for formal employment after a brief training. Given the utmost importance of tourism in the economy and forex reserves, apart from the opportunity to promote the cultural heritage and Glory of Bharat, this sector is fertile for such schemes. This may also help the government raise higher tax revenue.

A mechanism should also be drawn up to motivate the stakeholders to make contributions to boost tourism.

Bids by India for Olympics 2036 and Youth Olympics 2029 may help us make necessary scale-up processes timely.

Threats: Tourism as a sector is prone to external shocks, There has been a dip in tourism during the pandemic. Similarly, Ukraine-Russia War and Israel-Palestine war have impacted the tourism sector in these areas. Moreover, safety and security of the tourist destinations enhances the tourism activities. Holistic development of tourist destinations is required.

The capital spends on transport connectivity are usually good in these destinations, subject to non-occurrence of natural calamities like floods, Tsunami etc. Absence of better living standards in the tourist destinations might distract people who may wish to move away from the hectic urban life to such destinations to have a better work-life balance.

Way forward: The overall expenditure on this scheme should increase. Tourism ecosystem must be improved with the help of State governments and other public/private institutions including enhanced infrastructure connectivity through Gati Shakti and introduction of Bullet trains and increased air connectivity. There should be a vision to make India as a top tourist destination in the world by 2047.

Nagarajan is a former Under Secretary; and Gopalakrishnan is a Fellow at NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal