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Tourism in India

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal in Agra is a popular tourist destination
Famous Hall of Thousand Pillars at Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai
Vamana temple at Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its sculptural marvels

Tourism in India is economically important and is growing rapidly. The World Travel & Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated 14.02 lakh crore (US$220 billion) or 9.6% of the nation's GDP in 2016 and supported 40.343 million jobs, 9.3% of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.8% to 28.49 lakh crore (US$440 billion) by 2027 (10% of GDP).[1] In October 2015, India's medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020.[2] In 2014, 184,298 foreign patients traveled to India to seek medical treatment.[3]

About 88.90 lakh (8.89 million) foreign tourists arrived in India in 2016 compared to 80.27 lakh (8.027 million) in 2015, recording a growth of 10.7%.[4][5][6] Domestic tourist visits to all states and Union Territories numbered 1,036.35 million in 2012, an increase of 16.5% from 2011.[7] In 2014, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were the most popular states for tourists.[8] Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Agra and Jaipur have been the five most visited cities of India by foreign tourists during the year 2015. Worldwide, Delhi is ranked at 28 by the number of foreign tourist arrivals, while Mumbai is ranked at 30, Chennai at 43, Agra at 45, Jaipur at 52 and Kolkata at 90.[9]

The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks India 40th out of 136 countries overall. The report ranks the price competitiveness of India's tourism sector 10th out of 136 countries. It mentions that India has quite good air transport (ranked 32nd), particularly given the country’s stage of development, and reasonable ground transport infrastructure (ranked 29th). The country also scores high on natural and cultural resources (ranked 9th).[10] Some other aspects of its tourism infrastructure remain somewhat underdeveloped however. The nation has very few hotel rooms per capita by international comparison and low ATM penetration.[11] The World Tourism Organization reported that India's receipts from tourism during 2012 ranked 16th in the world, and 7th among Asian and Pacific countries.[12]

The Ministry of Tourism designs national policies for the development and promotion of tourism. In the process, the Ministry consults and collaborates with other stakeholders in the sector including various Central Ministries/agencies, state governments, Union Territories and the representatives of the private sector. Concerted efforts are being made to promote new forms of tourism such as rural, cruise, medical and eco-tourism.[13] The Ministry also maintains the Incredible India campaign.

Despite the rich cultural and natural heritage which India possesses, the security issues and crime — especially against female visitors, form a persisting trouble that has plagued the Indian tourism industry.[14][15][16]

Visa policy of India[edit]

Visa policy of India
  Visa not required
  e-Tourist Visa
  Visa required

India requires citizens of most countries to have a valid passport and apply for a visa at their local Indian embassy or consulate, before they travel. They can apply directly by mail or in person, or through their local travel services company. India has recently implemented an online method for citizens of 40 countries to apply and receive an e-Tourist Visa.[17] Nationals of Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal do not require a visa. Citizens of Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, DPR Korea, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, South Africa and Uruguay are not required to pay a fee when obtaining Indian visa.[18]

A Protected Area Permit (PAP) is required to enter the states of Nagaland and Sikkim and some parts of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Special permits are needed to enter Lakshadweep Islands.[19]

e-Tourist Visa[edit]

In order to boost tourism numbers,[20] the Indian Government decided to implement a new visa policy, allowing visitors to obtain a visa on arrival at 16 designated international airports by obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorisation online before arrival without the need to visit an Indian consulate or visa centre.[21] As a result of this, 56,477 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa during the month of October 2015, as compared to 2,705 during the month of October 2014 marking to a growth of 1987.9%. During January–October 2015 a total of 2,58,182 tourist arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 21,995 during January–October 2014 registering a growth of 1073.8%.[22]

The facility will be made available to citizens of about 180 countries in several phases.[23] On 27 November 2014, India introduced its visa on arrival enabled by ETA facility for tourists and business visitors, to citizens of following countries – Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu and Vietnam.[17] The facility was extended to China, Macau and Hong Kong on 30 July 2015.[24] The facility was further extended to citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Belgium, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, East Timor, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, Malaysia, Mongolia, Monaco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela on 15 August 2015.[25]

The visa on arrival requires a tourist to apply online on a secure Government of India website, at least 4 to 30 days before the date of travel. If approved, the passenger must print and carry the approved visa with the travel documents. The visa allows holders of Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter and stay anywhere in India for 30 days. The ETA can be obtained twice in a single calendar year.[17] The visa on arrival facility is expected to be expanded to about 180 countries over time. In April 2015 the scheme was renamed to e-Tourist Visa in order to avoid confusion.[26]


Foreign tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings[edit]

Foreign tourist arrivals by source country[edit]

Source countries for foreign tourist arrivals in India in 2015[28]
Rank Country Number Share in %
1  United States 1,213,624 15.12
2  Bangladesh 1,133,879 14.13
3  United Kingdom 867,601 10.81
4  Sri Lanka 299,513 3.73
5  Canada 281,306 3.50
6  Malaysia 272,941 3.40
8  Australia 263,101 3.28
8  Germany 248,314 3.09
9  France 230,854 2.88
10  Japan 207,415 2.58
Total of top 10 5,018,548 62.52
Other countries 3,008,585 37.48
Grand total 8,027,133 100

Foreign and domestic tourist visits by State[edit]

World Heritage Sites[edit]

Tourism by state[edit]

Challenges to the tourism industry[edit]

Security issues and crime, especially against women, remain a major challenge that stained the reputation of Indian tourism industry in recent years. It is widely considered to be dangerous for a woman to travel alone in India, as they are prone for harassment, rape[16] or being murdered. Several cases of foreign women visitors being harassed, raped and even murdered have caught international attention, such as the case of British teenager Scarlett Keeling who was raped and murdered in the Indian state of Goa in 2008.[14] In 2015, China and Japan have issued travel warnings for female travellers not to travel to India, even as a group, unless it is absolutely necessary.[15]

As a reaction to the poor security for women, India's tourism minister, Mahesh Sharma, has advised foreign women not to wear skirts in public or walk alone at night in the country's small towns and cities.[29] This statement garnered criticism, with Ira Trivedi writing in an open letter to the minister that not all parts of India are unsafe and that the government should be working to ensure women's safety instead of victim blaming.[30]


Further reading[edit]

Outline of Tourism in India[edit]


  1. ^ "Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017 India" (PDF). World Travel and Tourism Council. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Indian medical tourism industry to touch $8 billion by 2020: Grant Thornton - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Promotion of Medical Tourism". Press Information Bureau. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "Performance of Tourism Sector during December, 2016" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism (India). Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d "13.6% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in December 2016 Over the Same Period in 2015". Press Information Bureau. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "Annual Report (2015-16), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism (India). pp. 6, 7. Retrieved 14 October 2016. 
  7. ^ "India’s Domestic Tourists increase by 16% crossing 1 Billion Mark". IANS. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Tamil Nadu, UP pip Goa as tourist havens". 
  9. ^ Bremner, Caroline. "Top 100 City Destinations Ranking" (PDF). Euromonitor International. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  10. ^ "Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 - India". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index". World Economic Forum. 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "Rank in Tourism" (Press release). Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  13. ^ "Annual Report 2009–10" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. 6 April 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Juliet Perry & Sugam Pokharel (23 September 2016). "Judge clears men in Scarlett Keeling death". CNN. 
  15. ^ a b Nayantara Narayanan (18 February 2015). "Stay Away, What countries around the world tell women planning to visit India". Quartz India. 
  16. ^ a b Yogita Limaye. "Arrests over gang rape of Japanese tourist in India". BBC. 
  17. ^ a b c Tourist Visa on Arrival Government of India (2014)
  18. ^ Indian Visa fee schedule for all nationalities
  19. ^ "Visa Information – India". Timatic. IATA. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "India announces new visa rules to boost tourism numbers". Yahoo News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "India to extend visa-on-arrival to tourists from 180 countries". Zee News. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  22. ^ 1988 % growth registered in tourist visa-on-arrival in October, The Times of India, 18 November 2015 
  23. ^ "India to Extend Visa-On-Arrival Facility to 180 Countries". Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  24. ^ Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme to China, Hong Kong and Macau from tomorrow
  25. ^ Press Note - Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme to 36 more countries and 7 more airports from 15 August 2015
  26. ^ "Government Changes Name of Visa on Arrival Scheme to E-Tourist Visa". 14 April 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  27. ^ a b c "India Tourism Statistics at a Glance 2015" (PDF). 
  28. ^ a b "India Tourism Statistics at a Glance 2015" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  29. ^ Michael Safi (29 August 2016). "Female tourists should not wear skirts in India, says tourism minister". The Guardian. 
  30. ^ Ira Trivedi (30 August 2016). "Dear India's tourism minister, let women exercise their freedom". CNN. 

External links[edit]