The Indian tourism industry is at an all-time high with a record-breaking number of foreign tourists choosing the country as their travel destination in 2017.
Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam stated that over a crore travellers from across the globe visited the country last year, generating a whopping $27 billion, which is Rs 17,50,000 crore approximately.
When compared to the foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) in 2016, an encouraging growth rate of 15.2 percent was observed in 2017, testifying to the fact that the country is emerging as one of the most sought-after countries by travellers.
In fact, you can be proud of the fact that India is now part of the top-40 list of countries on the Tourism Competitive Index, which is quite impressive given the 65th rank it had in 2016.
Another phenomenal achievement of the tourism sector was its contribution of about 6.88 percent to the country’s total GDP, besides a stake of 12.36 percent in the country’s whole employment sector.
While the former is undoubtedly a significant incentive for the country’s revenue intake, it is the next accomplishment that should be noted for its massive engagement with lakhs of local communities to enable a better and memorable travel experience for the tourists.
Amongst the list of countries from where the maximum influx of tourists was observed, Bangladesh surprisingly took the crown at 19.04 percent, followed by countries like USA, UK, Australia, Canada, Russia, Malaysia, Germany, China and Sri Lanka.
In a 2017 study conducted by TripAdvisor, the states that saw a mushrooming growth in inbound travel include Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Mizoram, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and Kerala among others.
So what can be accounted for the meteoric upsurge in the number of foreign tourists flocking to India in 2017?
With a vision to synergise sustainable tourism, economic growth, community development and employment under a single umbrella, the Ministry of Tourism put together schemes like Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) in 2014 that intended to deliver theme-based tourism circuits across the country.
By definition, a circuit is a route having at least three major tourist destinations, which are distinct and apart. These destinations could be segmented theme-wise or be confined to a State or a region encompassing more than one state or Union Territory.
Identifying 13 such circuits in both theme-based and pilgrimage-centric routes, the ministry had demarcated a budget.
According to ministry officials, this renewed focus could have been a major determinant to the rise in the numbers. Around 11 ventures were flagged off in 2017 alone, making the total number of projects under the Swadesh Darshan scheme to 67.
One could also attribute the global visibility that India has attained in the recent years for the success.
The establishment of better diplomatic ties and bilateral collaborations with different nations across the globe could have elicited the curiosity and prompted more tourists to explore the country.
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Take, for instance, the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was a momentous achievement in its own right, will definitely play a prime role in encouraging more citizens of Israel to consider India for travelling and vice versa.
Going by the dramatic rise of last year, the ministry of Tourism is predicting an even better influx of foreign tourists for 2018 and is venturing out in all directions previously left unexplored.
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