With the Taj Mahal, fabulous palaces and forts, the towering Himalayas, high altitude lakes, beautiful forests with rich wildlife, history and heritage, yoga, ayurveda, mysticism, miles of beaches, and stunning islands… it’s a pity that India doesn’t attract more foreign tourists.
India received 10 million foreign tourists in 2017, a 14% growth over 2016 and a new high, but this is still just a small fraction of the number of people the other Asian countries are receiving every year. For instance, 55.6 million people visited China last year, followed by 27.8 million for Hong Kong, 27.4 million for Malaysia, 24.8 million for Thailand, and 15.0 million for Singapore. India currently doesn’t even rank in the top 10 Asian countries. According to a report published by The Telegraph, India ranks at the very top in a list of countries that should definitely receive many more tourists.
India Wants To Attract More Tourists
The Indian government is aiming to change this. K J Alphons, the Union Tourism Minister, said recently in an investment meet that the country earned 27 billion US dollars in the 2017 financial year, but this figure is not adequate. Speaking at the north-eastern state of Assam, Alphons said, “We want the figures to increase dramatically. The Centre aims to double the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTA) to 20 million in the next three years”. If India can achieve this, then that would be a three times increase over 2017. He invited all stakeholders to work hard together to achieve this figure.
Alphons Invites Tourists to the North-East
Assam where the event was held is in the country’s north-east, which receives the fewest number of tourists. The minister invited more domestic tourists to visit the region to know and understand the country better. “Indians must see India”, he said. “There is no better and beautiful place in the world. The entire North East has incredible people with beautiful smiles, music, dances, textiles and cuisines. It has scenic places, wildlife among many more things”.
Why Are the Indian Tourist Figures So Low?
There are quite a few reasons for this. The visa process is often tough for people from many countries. “Visa on arrival” is hardly offered, for instance. The tourist authorities are already reportedly working on this to address the issue. Currently, there is also a drive to reduce bureaucracy, which slows down everything in India. The country has also received bad publicity in recent months because of attitudes towards women, particularly those traveling alone. There have been a few attacks too on tourists.
The tourist infrastructure is also weak in many parts of the country, which K J Alphons has promised to improve. Also, many parts of India remain inaccessible to foreign visitors. Often, special permits are needed to visit these areas, such as North Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Uttaranchal. To visit some of these areas, even Indian need an Inner Line Permit.