September 29, 2022

Foreign tourists return to India, tour operators remain optimistic

Foreign tourists return to India, tour operators remain optimistic

New Delhi, April 24 (UNI) As the third wave of the Covid pandemic began to wane in February, Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) showed a slight increase stoking hopes for a revival of the tourism sector and the hotel industry battered by the epidemic of a deadly virus. Data from the Ministry of Tourism shows that FTAs ​​increased to 2.40 lakh in the country in February 2022 from 2.01 lakh in the previous month. This is a big respite for local tour operators and other industry players given that FTAs ​​had spiked to 3.03 lakh in December 2021 but dropped the following month due to Covid infection fears. FTAs in October and November 2021 were 1.81 lakh and 2.51 lakh respectively. Commenting on the trend, Subhash Goyal, Chairman of STIC Travel Group and Chairman of the Confederation of Tourism Professionals, said that after the opening of regular international flights and the start of E visas, inbound tourism to India has skyrocketed. “If the situation stays the same and there are no more disruptions due to Covid, not only will we hit the 11 million mark, but we will surpass it. In 2019, India earned about $30 billion (US) in foreign currency. In 2022-23, we hope to earn about 35 billion (US) dollars,” Goyal told UNI. Rajiv Mehra, President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and Managing Director, Uday Tours & Travel sounded cautiously optimistic saying there are customers – genuine tourists who have arrived so far and that’s less than 3% of what arrived pre-Covid.” The rest are incumbent NRIs international passports who cannot be called tourists because they are visiting friends and families. We should get to 30%-40% by the end of the year and hopefully reach February 2020 by 2023-end depending on Covid and war control” , did he declare. While the resumption of regular international flights and the subsequent easing of visa restrictions are expected to increase the number of foreign tourists coming to India in the coming months, the government has focused on reviving domestic tourism. “Recognizing the fact that the revival of the tourism sector will be largely driven by domestic tourism, the Ministry of Tourism is focusing on promoting domestic tourism by organizing a series of webinars under the general theme of Dekho Apna Desh,” said the ministry in its March monthly report. UNI NK