Thursday, May 14, 2009

Forex inflow cheers up tourism sector

May 2009

NEW DELHI: Tourism in India may well be out of the woods if latest data is anything to go by. While the number of foreign tourist arrivals is still less than April last year, significantly, foreign exchange earnings have gone up.

The number of foreign tourists who arrived in India, excluding NRIs, in April 2009 is 3.71 lakh as opposed to 3.84 lakh in April 2008, closing the gap substantially to 3.5%. Foreign exchange earnings, on the other hand, increased as compared to last year. FEEs were Rs 4,061 crore for April 2009, up from last year’s Rs 3,773 crore.

“The data is certainly encouraging. After a spell of negative growth, the fact that only 13,000 fewer visitors came to India in April this year as compared to last year could mean that tourist arrivals could show positive growth by October,” Leena Nandan, tourism joint secretary said.

The last quarter of 2008 spelt bad news for leisure travel and India suffered the combined impact of economic recession and Mumbai terror attacks. Growth rate dropped to 18% in January and the first three months of 2009 have been difficult for the industry.

The tourism ministry, along with the industry, has incentivised travel under the Visit India 2009 programme promoting discounts on travel, stay and sightseeing.

While growth of foreign tourist arrivals to India dropped from a high of 14% in 2007 to 5.6% in 2008, world tourism growth has come down from 6.6% in 2007 to 1.8 in 2008. According to UNWTO, world growth in 2009 is expected to be stagnant.

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