For long, Narendra Modi (#feku) has made tall claims (now what’s unusual about that) about how successful his Gujarat Tourism campaign has been. Figures revealed yesterday show that the facts are way different from the exaggerated claims!
In a story in the TOI yesterday, it comes out that Gujarat attracted merely 24.4 million domestic tourists in 2012. As per Modi’s statement as reported on the the Gujarat Tourism website (www.gujarattourism.com), the number of tourists grew by some 16% last year. For someone not familiar with tourism numbers, one gets the impression that the visionary that Narendra Modi is, the micro-manager that he is, he has managed to leapfrog Gujarat into the big leagues, perhaps even make it #1, by sheer genius. That is why I was surprised to read yesterday that Gujarat is actually placed a lowly 9th in the list of Indian states on the basis of tourism. And here’s what is even more shocking. It got merely 12% of the tourists that the number 1 state – Andhra attracted in 2012 (206 million). Yet another false claim. Yet another exaggeration. Yet another lie. This is becoming quite a hobby for me now – tracking down the Gujarat CM’s lies!
There was so much more that was wrong with the CM’s statement. Modi claimed that the 16% growth rate was “double the national average”. But the TOI story shows that tourism in India grew by 20% from 865 million to 1036 million. So what was Modi talking about? Maybe he got confused where the “20%” figure was to be used??? (Remember, he lied about China’s spend on education being 20% of its GDP to students of Fergusson College Pune?!).
Modi has – as is his wont – personalized the Gujarat Tourism campaign. There are several references to this on his personal website (www.narendramodi.in). One on May 20th titled “Gujarat Tourism goes to Cannes with sops for foreign film makers” talks about the department’s efforts to showcase Gujarat’s rich tourist credentials (“hills of saputara”, “white desert of kutch”, “Gir’s jungles”, “virgin beaches”). Another one dated June 26th of this year is titled “Gujarat Tourism wins CNBC Award”. “Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL) has won the prestigious “CNBC Awaaz Travel Award 2013″ for the best state tourism board for a second time in row” as Modi’s website claims. It’s good for any CM to applaud his department’s initiatives, but why the loud exaggeration? Why does Modi have to make it look as if he is the only one who is dynamic? That too when most of the claims are soon shown to be utter rubbish.
Consider the size of tourism in the states ahead of Gujarat, and the extent of this rubbish becomes clear. Andhra got 206 million as mentioned earlier. That’s almost 9 times more than what Gujarat got. TN was next with 184 million, followed by UP (168), Karnataka (94), Maharashtra (66), MP (53), Rajasthan (29) and Uttarakhand (24). These are all ahead of Gujarat.
Modi has used the Gujarat Tourism campaign to boost his own image. No other state spends as much on tourism as Gujarat does. This is what Narendra Modi himself says in the Gujarat Tourism website (http://www.gujarattourism.com/newsletter/10/gujarat-travel-mart-film-tourism.html): “In 2005-06, we spent about 30 crore on tourism. This year, we have increased the figure to 500 crore," and "We will spend money in promotion of tourism in Gujarat”. Rs 500 crores? All of the central government’s ad budget has been planned at Rs 630 crores. And lest you misunderstand, this figure is to be spent over the remaining four years of the 12th five-year plan. And this itself is a doubling of the spends over the 11th five-year plan period. Besides, it’s for all of the government’s programs, not just tourism. Is this Rs 500 crores number even correct? What do I say? Nothing about Modi’s figures looks correct!
If Rs 500 crores is indeed correct, then Modi needs to answer how such a huge spend can be incurred by the state government. Rs 500 crores for 24 million tourists? I doubt if the Andhra government even spends a fraction of this to get its 200 million tourists! Rs 500 crores is even more than the provision made for the metro project between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in this year’s budget! Surely Modi is not spending more on his PR machinery than he does on capital expenses? Besides, the BJP severely criticized the Congress for the Rs 630 crore ad spend. So how is it approving the Gujarat ad budget?
Of course, when it comes to international tourists, Gujarat does not even feature in the top six states that TOI lists (who knows how many more there are before Gujarat). Maharashtra tops the list with 5.1 million foreign tourists out of India’s total 20.7 million arrivals. So much for Gujarat Tourism’s and Modi’s tall claims!
The real truth is that the Gujarat Tourism myth is almost as strong as the Vibrant Gujarat one. In the former, the state spends a huge amount on advertising and gets very little (except good PR!) in return. In the latter, the state claims very high investment numbers, but gets very little in reality (12% of the claimed figures in the last four years as per reports). Without doubt, everything about Modi is fake! (BTW some new data in today’s TOI – Gujarat’s cities killing infant girls – also shows how infant mortality rates are so high in Gujarat….shame shame).