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A sudden surge in arrival of foreign tourists from Russia and Spain has spurred the Tourism Ministry to shift focus from its traditional markets--the UK and the US--and zero in on tourists from the two European countries. Senior officials of the Tourism Ministry said foreign tourist arrivals from these two countries have seen a spurt in the last year, and the ministry is now keen to cash in on this through dynamic promotional campaigns. The number of Spanish tourists increased by 16.2 per cent in 2016 in comparison to the previous year when their footfall had decreased by 1.2 per cent from 2014. Similarly, there has been a 32.1 per cent surge in the number of tourists coming to India from the Russian Federation in 2016 as compared to 2015. The number of tourists from this Eastern European country had hit rock bottom in 2014, 36 per cent dip in FTAs from Russia. "Our surveys have shown that these two countries are emerging markets and we are looking at ways to get more and more tourists from these countries to India. While there is a surge from 2015-2016, the numbers are still low as compared to arrivals from other countries. "We are running campaigns through our embassies in these countries as part of the Incredible India 2 programme and the ministry's Frankfurt office is coordinating them", said a senior official of the ministry. The official said while Russian tourists accounted for a mere 2.6 per cent of the total FTAs in 2016, Spanish tourists accounted for a measly 0.87 per cent and emphasised that now the focus is to pull up these numbers. In fact the ministry is promoting the Incredible India 2 brand in select cities in these two countries--inviting local tour operators to generate awareness about the tourism potential in India. Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trips to both these countries earlier this year have also added to the efforts of the ministry to promote India's heritage and culture. In 2016, while Bangladesh accounted for a little more than 15 per cent of total FTAs in India, the UK accounted for 10.7 per cent and the US for 14.73 per cent.
These three countries have traditionally been the top source countries for FTAs in India.
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