Falling rupee attracts rising number of UAE tourists to India

The deep slide in the rupee exchange value, making travel plans in India relatively cheaper for tourists, is  driving up bookings by international tourists in India’s in-bound tourism in the approaching busy season. 

Buoyed by the early trend, tourism authorities and private industry are expecting 8 – 8.5 million international tourist arrivals in the 6-month period till March end 2019 – representing a 50 percent increase in visitors

To give an added push to the pickup in in-bound tourism, Indian government authorities at both central and state levels, along with the private sector players in tourism and hospitality are currently giving shape to a highly targeted and customised promotion packages to attract different categories of travellers from overseas, especially select regions including the US, Europe, Middle East, CIS counties and Australia.

Rupee value has registered a drop of about 15 percent against the US dollar in the last one year period, an  added attraction to international tourists to visit India, besides, of, course, to enjoy its splendid beaches in Goa and Kerala, the mesmerising houseboat rides in the backwaters of Kerala and epitome to love – Taj Mahal at Agra in Uttar Pradesh.

As against total international tourist arrivals of 10.17 million in 2017-18, India has already registered arrivals of 7.47 million international tourists during the April-September period of current fiscal year, a period that is considered the lean season for tourism in India.

According to a senior official at Indian Association of Tourist Operators (IATO), the apex body of Indian tourist promotion companies, there has been a significant pick up in bookings for in-bound tourism to India from several foreign countries.

Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and the pink triangle of Agra-Jaipur-Delhi falling in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi area among the states which are expected to see a significant increase in foreign tourist visits during September 2018-March 2019 period.

“There has been a concerted effort by the government and private sector operators in tourism sector in the last few months to market India as a major attraction and we expect about 8 million to 8.5 million international tourist arrivals during the 6-month period starting from September 2018,” E M Najeeb, senior vice president of IATO, told Arabian Business.

Kerala recovery

Najeeb, who is also the chairman of Airtravel Enterprises India Ltd, said Kerala has drawn up some special packages based on the state’s traditional Ayurveda and Monsoon to attract tourists from the Middle East. Kerala has a special connection with UAE because of a large number of its people working there, who also play a major role in influencing the people of the Gulf country to visit the state, he said.

Kerala, which is fast recovering from the recent devastating floods, is currently in the process of rebuilding its roads and communication network, besides improving other facilities to be ready for welcoming the tourist inflow, expected from this month to witness the famous Nehru Trophy boat race in the backwaters of Alleppey, held on Saturday, a senior Kerala government tourism department official said.

The boat race, involving heated competition by long snake boats, is traditionally held on the second Saturday of August every year. This year, however, this was postponed due to the unexpected floods in the state.

At the pan-India level, the government and industry is still in the process of unveiling part of its multi-pronged initiatives to woo international tourists which will include targeted destination promotion, medical tourism, Budha-circuit and a series of mega shopping and cultural events in some of the select states.

“Even if we see same level of international tourist arrivals in the second half of this fiscal as that of the first half, it will still be a big jump over that of last year. The twin factors of fall in rupee value and improving economies of several overseas regions, especially regions such as the Middle East on the back of rising crude oil prices, are expected to lead to increased spending by people on travels from these regions,” an industry analyst said.

This will result in a quantum jump in the tourist arrivals in the current festival and upcoming New Year season, the analyst said.

Share of India in international tourist arrivals were, however, a paltry 1.17 percent in 2017. The country’s foreign exchange earnings from tourism were to the tune of $27.31 billion last year.

India has set a target of 20 million international tourist arrivals by 2020.

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