“T” for “Tourism” was of one of the 5Ts of the BJP’s election manifesto in 2014. We have completed 5 years and the dates for the next election is announced and a new government will be in place in May. And while the debate rages in the industry about whether the government lived up to the industry’s expectation, a careful analysis of the growth in tourism in the last 5 years depicts a mixed picture.
The industry was far too enthused and hopeful of a change in the country’s tourism fortune towards the beginning of the Modi government’s term in 2014, that expectation has seen some correction over the last five years. The inbound growth for 2014-2018 period for India is definitely more than the international growth. However, most of this growth has been driven by a single market, Bangladesh. Diversifying sources markets and growing the existing markets at a consistent and healthy rate remains a work in progress.
During the first two years of the government, we have had PM Modi talking about tourism on every national and international platform. He accorded the utmost importance to tourism in the ASEAN meet giving a hope that regional tourism could start off. His thrust on Buddhist Tourism also created hope in the market. However, this hope could not continue to last longer even as the Prime Minister gave his best shot to establish India as a popular tourism destination.
Statistics suggests that the inbound arrival was 6.97 million in 2013 which rose to 10.55 million in 2018, reflecting a growth of 5.2 per over 2017. Bangladesh has emerged as the standout performer. The country accounted for 524,923 foreign visitors in 2013 with a share of 7.53 per cent in total inbound arrivals and ranked 3rd as source country. This number increased to 2.15 million, a share of 21.49 per cent of FTA to India by 2017. The country has emerged as the top source market of India followed by the US and the UK, whose market share have dropped to 13.72 per cent and 9.82 per cent in 2017 from 15.52 per cent and 11.62 per cent in 2013. However, the arrivals have increased from both of these markets, albeit not as strongly as from Bangladesh.
At an industry meet recently, representatives of inbound trade suggested a dip in inbound tourism to a tune of 10 per cent. However, that may not be true but it definitely calls for introspection. Many of the top source markets (200,000 plus arrivals) like the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Sri Lanka have shown below-par single-digit growth in 2016 and 2017 that calls for attention.