India's tourism industry has been hit severely by the violent protests against the Citizenship Act, with at least seven nations including the US, UK and Canada issuing travel warnings.
India's tourism industry has been hit severely by the violent protests against the Citizenship Act, with at least seven nations including the US, UK and Canada issuing travel warnings. In the last two weeks, about 200,000 domestic and international tourists have cancelled or delayed their trip to Taj Mahal, one of the world's most famous tourist attractions, as estimated by officials.
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This has only worsened the woes of the industry, which has witnessed a sharp decline in the tourist inflow at a time when the economy is hit by a massive slowdown.
Over the years, tourism has become one of the major growth drivers of India's economic growth, with the industry contributing 10 percent or close to $250 billion of the country's GDP in 2018, according to a report by Statista.
However, this contribution seems to have fallen sharply in 2019. Data available on Ministry of Tourism website, as of June 2019, indicates a fall in foreign tourists in the country.
Even Indians are flying more out of India for their vacations. The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) expects India to account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Memorable India, leading tours and travel operator, citing travel agencies, said that as of June 2019, India sent out 25 million people against 23 million in the entire 2017. The sudden growth in Indians flying out can be attributed to growing income levels and cheaper abroad packages.
To get Indians' attention back on the country's tourist attractions and boost the industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the citizens to explore at least 15 destinations within the country by 2022.
Besides, Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development under the Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her budget speech in 2019, allocated Rs 1,378 crore for the development of better infrastructure in line with international standards. These 17 sites include Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Khajuraho, Hampi, Qutub Minar, Ajanta and Kumarakom.
Seven new international airlines are operating flights to and from India this winter. The winter season starts from October and lasts till March. The international airlines include Air Tanzania, Arkia Israeli Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, LOT Polish, Nok Air, Nok Scoot Air, and VietJet Airlines. While domestic airline Air India has also planned 311 international departures per week during the winter season. Delta too has resumed its service to India with non-stop flight between Newyork and Mumbai.
India still among top tourist destinations
India continues to be on the lists of top tourist destinations. The country is ranked at the 18th place (Kerala) in AirBnb's list of 'top 20 travel destinations for 2020', which has places like Luxembourg, Japan and Romania. The country is ranked at the 10th spot (Jodhpur) in Booking.com's list of 'top 10 travel destination cities in 2020', which also includes top cities like Seogwipo (South Korea), Salta (Argentina) and Takamatsu (Japan).
Also, 2020 has 17 long weekends, which could potentially be another factor that would drive growth in tourism this year.