India’s Rise In Outbound Travel Clashes With Steep Decline Of Foreign Tourists By 72%

Dive into the challenges, solutions proposed by industry leaders, and urgent appeals to rekindle India's allure for global travelers.

by Mallika Khurana
India’s Rise In Outbound Travel Clashes With Steep Decline Of Foreign Tourists By 72%

In the realm of global travel, India finds itself in an intriguing dichotomy: while its outbound travel market has surged beyond pre-pandemic levels, the return of foreign tourists to its shores has been notably sluggish. The stark statistics, articulated by Union Tourism Minister G. Krishna Reddy, paint a vivid picture: a significant drop in inbound tourism from 3.14 crore foreign tourist visitors in 2019 to a mere 85.9 lakh in 2022.

IATO Appeals For Government Aid As Inbound Tourism Lags

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) is a powerful organisation that advocates for more than 1,700 incoming tour operators. It has assumed leadership and also addressed the issues by pleading with the Prime Minister to revive incoming travel. According to Money Control, their passionate letter explains the underlying reasons for this fall and offers a plan of action to boost inbound tourism, which is still far below the 2019–20 benchmarks.

The core of their discussion summarises the various factors that have contributed to this decline. The main issues they have are the removal of incentives for foreign tour operators and the lack of qualified tourism staff in Indian embassies to maintain regular contact with foreign counterparts. They also pointed out the glaring absence of international marketing and promotional activities. 

What makes this situation even worse is the lack of funding support for essential international marketing initiatives like family vacations and road shows. Bureaucratic roadblocks also present a major obstacle to promoting inbound tourism.

IATO’s Plea To Prime Minister Reveals 72% Dip Due

Rajiv Mehra, the President of IATO, passionately underscores the dichotomy between India’s innate allure as a premier global destination and the extraordinary lack of marketing efforts. He states, “In terms of destinations, India is among the best in the world. But we are not marketing ourselves at all.” Similar sentiments have been expressed by Ajay Prakash of FAITH. He has also emphasised the necessity of proactively engaging in marketing campaigns.

He proposed arranging familiarisation trips for travel agents to showcase India’s diverse culinary offerings, tourist attractions, and rich cultural tapestry. Highlighted as an undiscovered wealth, the magnificent forts of India are showcased as exquisite wedding venues. As per the reports from Moeny COntrol, Prakash believes that obtaining a visa should be made as easy as possible. He also supports expanding the list of nations that can obtain an e-visa and even considers waiving visa fees in certain situations. 

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Tourism Leaders Call For Urgent Revival Tactics

Numerous proactive recommendations for boosting the number of foreign visitors are included in Mehra’s letter to the government. For the next five years, or until inbound tourism recovers to 2019–20 levels, it proposes rewarding inbound tour operators with a five per cent incentive on their foreign exchange earnings, designated solely for international marketing initiatives. 

According to Money Control, the suggestion that Ministry of Tourism officials be stationed in foreign consulates or embassies, in conjunction with the immediate creation of a National Tourism Board, also emphasises their dedication to reviving India’s tourism narrative. 

Amidst these entreaties lies a powerful call to action. It is an appeal to uncover and unleash the untapped potential of India’s tourism sector.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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