Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Impact of e-Tourism Visa scheme on Tourism sector in India

World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27 September to foster awareness among the national and international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The theme of this year’s World Tourism day is Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility with Thailand as the host nation.

World Tourism Day 2016- Universal Accessibility
World Tourism Day 2016

Tourism is an engine for growth of a nation. As per Government of India website, on every Rs. 1 million spent on tourism, employment for 78 citizens is generated. With the same amount of investment, Manufacturing sector generates 45 jobs and agriculture generates 18 jobs. India ranks 42nd in Global FTA with 0.68% share of Global FTA, though India ranks 8th in natural resources and 24th in cultural resources globally. 

Taj Mahal: UNESCO World Heritage site
Taj Mahal- the Jewel of muslim art in India
Source: wikipedia

It can be understood that safety, security, hygiene, sanitation, last mile connectivity, rigid visa regime could have been the factors behind the dismal share in global FTA. Since Narendra Modi led NDA government came to power in May 2014, we have witnessed various high voltage campaigns and schemes across various sectors of the economy such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Digital India, Startup India, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana etc. In the tourism sector, E-Tourist visa, Hunar se Zaika, Smart city, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc have the potential to positively affect the Indian economy in direct and indirect ways. Through this blog, we shall bring to your notice whether such tourism sectors schemes are doing as well as they had promised. This is important as there has always existed in the gap between policy announcement and its execution. For example, Govt of India had targeted 1 billion FTA by end of 12th Five Year plan which needed an increase in annual growth rate from 8% to 12% from 2012 onwards. However, such ambitious targets were not achieved. In this post, we shall talk about the impact of e-tourist visa on the tourism sector.

Impact of E-Tourist visa scheme:
E-tourist visa scheme was started on 27th November 2014 and met with great success of 1200% increase in FTA through this scheme. It offers convenience to the incoming tourists with flexibility to plan their trips to India.

E-Tourist Visa Scheme
e-Tourist Visa scheme launched in 2014

Since its inception almost 7.5 lakh E-tourist visas have been issued and 4.4 lakh tourists arrived on E-visa. The year 2015 witnessed a growth of 4.5% FTA and a growth of 9% in Foreign Exchange Earnings (in terms of Rupees and not dollars).
Here is a comparison of the number of Foreign Tourist Arrival (FTA) in India for the years 2014 and 2015.

FTA in 2014
FTA in 2015
%age change in FTA 2014-15
7.5 million
8 million

On the whole, we can see that there has not been a great gap in the FTA before and after the scheme was launched. This is partly because there are only 16 airports where this facility can be availed. Though this scheme is now available to 150 countries. There is no option of renewing the visa or extending it due to which foreign tourists who are here for a prolonged treatment are not able to stay for a long time.

Nonetheless this has been a good initiative and can be extended to more airports and major ports in the years to come. It has shown promise and is a bright spot in the growth story of tourism in India. It is bound to have a spread effect on the entire tourism sector including Bed and Breakfast accommodations which foster cultural exchange between Bed and Breakfast host and guest.
Kindly share your views in the comment box about the scheme and how it can be made more lucrative for India’s tourism sector.

In the next part, I shall discuss the impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on the tourism sector in India.