Growth in foreign tourists arrival dropped to a five-year low of about 4% with a total of around 8 million visiting the country by the end of last year
Mumbai: India as a tourist destination for foreign travellers saw a major setback last year. Foreign tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings saw their biggest fall in 2015 since 2010, as per data available on the official website of the ministry of tourism.
Growth in foreign tourists arrival dropped to a five-year low of about 4% with a total of around 8 million visiting the country by the end of last year.
Similarly foreign exchange earnings saw negligible growth of just 0.1% at $19,676 million, the lowest since 2010. In the previous year, both foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) and forex earnings saw a growth of 10.6% and 6.6%, respectively.
While the ministry has not given any specific reasons for the sharp drop in FTA, many in the travel and hospitality industry attributed the decline to the global financial slowdown, particularly in key source markets like Russia, Germany, France and many Far East Asian countries. This has forced many tourists across the globe to tighten their travel budgets.
“The global slowdown is one of the reasons why India has not seen much of travellers coming to India. There are lesser people travelling. Markets like Russia slowed down. India sees a fair number of travellers from there. While business travellers may be up, it’s actually the leisure travelers that have gone down," said Manav Thadani, chairman, HVS Asia Pacific, a global hospitality consulting firm. Thadani is also the chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council-India Initiative (WTTCII).
According to a report ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects, 2016’ by the United Nations, the global economy has seen major challenges last year due to macroeconomic uncertainties, low commodity prices, rising volatility in exchange rates and capital flows among other things. Not just the developed economies, developing nations like China and other South East Asian countries also felt the impact of the financial slowdown.
Ghulam Zia, executive director (advisory-retail and hospitality), Knight Frank India, a global property consultant, also agreed that foreign tourist arrivals in India has seen a major hit due to slowdown in the global economy, particularly Russia and other Asian countries, from where a major chunk of tourists visit India.
“Pretty much every country and economy is going through a tough time and most of the tourists used to be from Russia and Far East and these markets have been the worst affected. Obviously, there is little money to spend from the global economies. So when global tourists do not have money in their pocket to spend, India is definitely not the top place for them to visit," Zia said.
He said unless the global economy shows signs of improvement, major initiatives planned by the Indian government like launching a new ‘Incredible India’ campaign or providing electronic visa to foreign travellers to India would not reap much benefit in the near future.
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