In 10 years, foreign tourist arrival in India witnessed slowest earnings

Thursday, February 13, 2020


In a decade in 2019, arrivals of international visitors in India and the foreign exchange earnings of the country from them has grown at the slowest pace, government data have pointed out recently.


Tourism experts and airline executives have highlighted the delay to multiple factors comprising street protests over the new Citizenship Amendment Act and elevated levels of pollution in northern India, including Delhi as attributing factors working behind it. Many countries had issued travel advisories to their citizens over both issues.


If we look back, in 2019, about 10.89 million foreign tourists visited India, a rise of 3.1% from 2018, the tourism ministry informed Parliament earlier this month, citing provisional data. In 2018, arrivals grew 5.2%, as in 2017, the expansion was 14%, showed data from the tourism ministry and the Bureau of Immigration.


In 2019, forex earnings from inbound tourists increased 8.2% to Rs 2.2 lakh crore. The growth was 9.6% in 2018 and 15% in 2017, as per the latest figures from the ministry and the Reserve Bank of India.


The government hasn’t made any sort of evaluation of the effect on tourism from agitations against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), minister of state for tourism Prahlad Singh Patel explained in his reply to a query on February in the Lok Sabha.


However travel industry experts explained that this was one of factors, particularly towards the second half of the year, that impacted the plans of both leisure and business travelers at the same time.


“We saw a significant spurt in queries (from potential travellers) and we issued more advisori es cautioning corporate travellers last year than we have done in the recent past,” said Neeraj Balani, the Indian managing director for SOS International, a global medical and travel security risk services company. It has clients from 1,000 cities in 90 countries worldwide. Without getting into specifics, Balani mentioned in the last few months of the year, many global companies had called off the meetings in India. In December, at least seven countries, including the US, UK, Israel, Canada and Singapore issued travel advisories warning their citizens planning to travel to India, mainly to the north-eastern region which experienced massive CAA protests.


On the other hand, pollution has been the other major problem that has affected Delhi’s tourist arrivals, the city that pulls most number of tourists in India — the capital welcomed about 42% of all international tourists who visited India in 2018, according to government figures.


ET on November 5, 2019 reported the way foreign and domestic tourists were calling off their trips to Delhi due to the deteriorating air quality at the time.


While some airline executives stated that there was a decline in arrivals, an executive at Cathay Pacific said that there was no spike of flight ticket cancellations. Another executive at a foreign airline said inbound travel to India had never been “a significant story”.


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