"Athiti Devo Bhava", which means guests are like our god, is the epithet of Indian culture. That's also the catch-line of the Ministry of Tourism's Incredible India campaign. The recently released data from the ministry shows a healthy rise in foreign tourists arriving in India.
The data points out to a remarkable rise in e-visa entries. The facility is now available for citizens arriving from 150 countries. The spike in tourist arrivals can be attributed to the thriving e-visa facility.
While alleged racial attacks, harassment and sexual assaults against foreign tourists continue to be a major worry, this, however, has not dampened the spirits of foreign tourists.
Tourism sector is doing well on all counts. Read on to get a fair idea of the state of tourism in India.
This seems to be a game-changer for the Indian tourism industry. The Narendra Modi government introduced the e-visa facility in November 2014. This has reduced considerable paperwork and has facilitated ease of travelling for India-bound tourist. From 1,10,657 e-visa arrivals in 2015, it rose to 4,34,927 arrivals this year — a whopping 293% spike. February, in particular, sees a rise in the total number of e-visa entries — a 369% rise. The Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi followed by Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport form about two-thirds of the total e-visa arrivals.
There has been a steady rise in the total number of foreign tourist arriving in India. While 32.04 lakh foreign tourist arrived in 2014, the figure rose to about 36.36 lakh in the first five months till May 2016 — a 13.48% rise. The winter months of January and February see more foreign tourists arrivals than the summer months of April and May when there is a sharp dip.
It is not the US, UK or any western country that tops the chart. It is our neighbour Bangladesh. Around 14.9% of the total 36.36 lakh tourist arrivals were from Bangladesh in 2016. The US and the UK were the next top source for foreign tourists. Canada and Sri Lanka complete the list.
Tourism is a major component of India's foreign exchange earnings. Between 2014 and 2016, there has been a healthy increase in the foreign exchange earnings through tourism. Forex earnings increases in the winter months of January and February and declines during the hot Indian summers. The month of April has also seen the biggest spike in forex earnings, a 29.6% rise between 2014-16. The month of January sees India collecting the highest amount of forex earnings.
Delhi and Mumbai, the two biggest metros of India also see the most number of foreign tourist arrivals. While the national capital tops the list, Mumbai comes second. Chennai, a key terminal for tourists arriving from south-east Asia and Sri Lanka came third. The surprise entry in this list is a nondescript location called Haridaspur. It is an inland port close to Bangladesh. It may be a major reason for the rise in Bangladeshi tourists coming to India.
The numbers released by the Ministry of Tourism is surely encouraging. With half the year remaining, there is scope for much higher growth rate for Indian tourism sector.