India : 38th most-visited nation in world

Despite its incredible offerings, India registered only 10.2 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2017, which has placed it at the thirty-eighth spot in the list of most-visited countries in the world, said a study on inbound tourism by global aviation consultancy group, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. The number is a jump from 2016, when it stood at 8.8 million.

A reason for this is India’s reliance on long-haul source markets, that is countries that are beyond six to seven hours of flying time away. “The world’s top 10 inbound markets get 56.9% of its tourists from shorthaul source markets,’’ the study said. Short-haul source markets are countries that are less than three hours away. India’s competitors get an average of 32.8% of total FTAs from short-haul markets. In comparison, India gets only 12.8 % inbound tourist traffic from short-haul, with long haul accounting for 60.6 %.

The top three markets for inbound tourists are US, UK and Canada. When it comes to inbound tourism growth in India, it has been largely driven by arrivals from Bangladesh.

“During 2013 to 2017, FTAs from Bangladesh accounted for CAGR of 44.8% in India,’’ the study said. “FTAs, including those from Bangladesh, grew at a CAGR of 7.2% year-on-year during 2007-2017. But if Bangladesh is excluded, it falls to 5.7%. Eighty-five per cent of the FTAs from Bangladesh come by road. FTAs excluding Bangladesh registered a growth of 8.2% year-on-year in 2017, compared to 15.9% including Bangladesh.

Then again, India’s definition of FTA differs from the one used internationally. In most countries, a non-resident’s arrival at international borders is considered an FTA. India’s definition of an FTA is an arrival at international borders by foreign passport holders. This is why some of the leisure traffic into India that came from the top three inbound tourist markets of US, UK and Canada were accounted for by Persons of Indian Origin.

The study recommended a study to ascertain the competitiveness of India in relation to its global peers on metrics such as airfares, availability of seats, ease of access, cost of ground product, quality of hotels, civic infrastructure, safety and comfort, cleanliness etc. “Identification of strengths and weaknesses in proposition to travellers is necessary for an effective strategy,’’ it said.

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