Tourism has been booming in India, with the industry seeing an upsurge lately. At such a time, a hike in the e-visa fees for foreign tourists coming into the country could halt this growth, although briefly, say experts.
The World Travel & Tourism Council expects India to become the fourth-largest travel and tourism economy in the world in less than 10 years, leaving behind China, the U.S., and Germany.
More people are visiting India than ever before and data shows how the surge is taking place.
As per a report by Ministry of Tourism, in 2010, there were 5.78 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India, while in 2016, 8.80 million FTAs, which is inclusive of NRIs, came to India. The footfall in 2016 was 9. 7 pc points higher than 2015, when 8.03 million tourists came to India. In 2017 (up till June) India welcomed 4.8 million international tourists.
The growth over the years is evident. In past, international bodies such as the World Economic Forum have also portrayed a bullish outlook for India’s tourism market, but now with new rules- such as the recent e-visa hike, the stats might bend, taking the graph downwards, say experts.
As per recent announcements on e-visa fees, countries which were being charged USD 50 for government fee per e-Visa will now have to spare USD 80; while countries being charged USD 75 will now have to pay USD 100.
“Any increment brings disturbance for its respective industry and with this increase in e-visa fees, travel industry of India seems to be disturbed. There may be fall in number of visa requests if this hike is not reduced. This may bring a drop in inbound tourism, however, it is too early to reach that decision,” says Nishant Pitti, CEO and founder of Ease My Trip, an Indian online travel company headquartered in Delhi.
“A major drawback that I am currently seeing of this decision is that inbound tourism may initially drop but eventually it will be fine,” says Pitti. Although looking at the positive side, “the increment in fee can be used by the government in boosting tourism opportunities in the country,” he adds.
As per a report by FICCI, in 2011, India’s share in international tourist flows was 0.64 pc of world travellers (India’s share in the international tourism receipts was relatively higher at 1.61 pc in 2011), and 2.9 pc of travellers from Asia-Pacific (share in tourism receipts being 5.72 pc). All these shares have been steadily rising since 2002, and were not significantly affected by the 2008 financial crisis.
“Such kind of rate changes always bring certain level of downfall in number of tourists. However, if we talk about long run, nothing much changes. Tourism business is growing in almost every corner of the world. No matter, what price one has to pay, holidaying is trending,” says Pitti.