Last year, nearly seven million foreigners travelled to India—the highest in its history. The number has been rising for a few years now. The only year in which there was a dip (2.2%) was in 2009, most likely caused by the 26/11 terror attacks of November 2008.
August foreign tourist arrivals showed there was a massive jump of 16.9% over the same period last year. Barring unforeseen developments, 2014 will see India’s greatest number of foreign tourists yet.
While 2009 certainly saw a decline in the number of tourist arrivals, it is worth noting that there was no decline in 2013—the year after the gang rape of a young girl in Delhi. In fact, there was a 6% increase in foreign arrivals, despite finance minister Arun Jaitley’s claims. Jaitley made the first public relations gaffe of Narendra Modi’s government when he dismissed that brutal crime as a small incident that should not have affected tourism figures.
The country-wise comparison between 2012 and 2013 is also interesting.
Russian tourists increased by 46%, due to the relaxation of visa rules for Russian tourists in December 2012. In 2013, Russian tourists travelled primarily to Goa, using tour operators for the most part. Goa offered visas on arrival to Russian citizens.
The number of Pakistani tourists rose to a six-year high in 2013, with an astonishing 86.8% increase, reaching 1.11 lakh tourists.
Malaysian tourists increased by 23.9% and Chinese tourists by 12.2% from 2012 to 2013. Sri Lankan tourists, on the other hand, dipped by 11.7%, one of the key factors being that the Sri Lankan economy stagnated in 2013. Tourists from Nepal, which is facing economic problems of its own, dipped by 9.2%.
This post first appeared in Scroll.in.