Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a new boost to India’s tourism sector in a manner which none of his predecessors could do. Thanks to his aggressive foreign policy, India has acquired a new image, which certainly has a great impact on the flow of foreign tourists in the country. The latest data of Union Ministry of Tourism says that there was 11 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals in August this year over the last corresponding month. There was a whopping 71.3 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals on e-tourist visa in August this year over the last corresponding year. Union Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) and FTAs on e-tourist visa on the basis of nationality-wise and port-wise data received from the Bureau of Immigration (BOI).
The number of FTAs in August was 7.24 lakh as compared to FTAs of 6.52 lakh in August, 2016 and 5.99 lakh in August, 2015. The growth rate in FTAs in August 2017 over August, 2016 is 11 per cent as compared to 8.8 per cent in August, 2016 over August, 2015. FTAs during the period January-August 2017 were 63.98 lakh with a growth of 15.2 per cent over the same period of previous year as compared to the FTAs of 55.54 lakh with a growth of 9.5 per cent in January- August 2016 over January-August 2015. The percentage share of FTAs in India during August 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (21.26 per cent) followed by USA (11.60 per cent), UK (9.46 per cent), Sri Lanka (6.41 per cent), Malaysia (3.71 per cent), Japan (2.74 per cent), Canada (2.57 per cent), France (2.46 per cent), Germany (2.39 per cent), Australia (2.37 per cent), Nepal (2.11 per cent), Singapore (1.96 per cent), China (1.94 per cent), Oman (1.76 per cent) and UAE (1.57 per cent).
The percentage share of FTAs in India during August 2017 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (26.99 per cent) followed by Mumbai Airport (15.49 per cent), Haridaspur land check post (12.06 per cent), Chennai airport (9.37 per cent), Bengaluru airport (6.36 per cent), Cochin airport (5.01 per cent), Kolkata airport (4.42 per cent), Hyderabad airport (3.50 per cent), Gede rail land check post (2.74 per cent), Tiruchirapalli airport (1.94 per cent),Trivandrum airport (1.67 per cent), Ghojadanga land check post (1.46 per cent), Ahmadabad airport (1.36 per cent), Sonauli land check post (1.35 per cent) and Amritsar airport (0.89 per cent). During August this year,
a total of 1.13 lakh tourist arrived on e-tourist visa as compared to 0.66 lakh during August last year, registering a growth of 71.3 per cent. During January-August 2017, a total of 9.49 lakh tourist arrived on e-tourist visa as compared to 6.06 lakh during January-August last year, registering a growth of 56.5 per cent.
The percentage share of top 15 source countries availing e-tourist visa facilities during August this year are UK (12.6 per cent), US (9.6 per cent), UAE (6.7 per cent), Spain (6.3 per cent), France (5.9 per cent), Oman (5.6 per cent), Italy (4.9 per cent), China (4.1 per cent), Germany (4 per cent), Australia (3.4 per cent), Canada (3.3 per cent), South Korea (3.1 per cent), Singapore (2.9 per cent), Israel (2.3 per cent) and Malaysia (2 per cent). Needless to say that India offers a variety of experience to travelers at one go as each part of the country gives them identifiable difference from the rest of the nation. The northern part of the country may offer them mountain experience to the core from gigantic peaks to snow-covered valleys while the sprawling coastlines of the south may give a breathtaking contrast experience of beaches, lakes and riversides. Exotic destinations, rustic country sides, vibrant festivities, harmonious co-existence of different faiths, colourful attires and ethnic cuisines make India a wondrous land for a global holidayer. The introduction of ‘Niche Tourism Products’ to expand and diversify the tourism prospects and make the country a 365 days destination has given an impetus to the increased inflow. The introduction of visa on arrival (VoA) and ‘e-Tourist Visa’ have also accelerated the FTAs. As India is poised to get stronger day by day as an economy, tourism sector is bound to be more vibrant.
(The writer is an independent commentator on socio-economic and political issues. Views are his personal)