Foreign tourists seem to be warming up to Incredible India! at last, as their footfall increased to 10 million last year, according to Tourism Ministry data.
Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam on Monday said that the country earned an income of $27 billion from Foreign Tourist Arrivals(FTAs) in 2017, PTI reported. He said that the tourism sector is contributing 6.88 per cent to the country's total GDP, besides 12.36 per cent of the total employment in terms of jobs.
"But am I happy with the numbers? No. I want these numbers to increase dramatically because India is an incredible place and we have everything for everybody. So we are trying to bring in lot more people," he added.
Responding to a query on tourist arrivals from Israel, he referred to Israeli Prime Minister's India visit and said both the nations are now having a close relationship.
"So we are hoping that much large number of tourists will come to India in future," Kannanthanam said.In January 2018 alone, the FTA number is expected to breach 1.2 million, the highest in any month during the last two years.
According to news agency UNI, India’s rank in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), 2017 has jumped 25 places since 2013. India's ranking in the TTCI Report of 2017 was 40th as compared to 52nd in 2015 and 65th in 2013.
The Tourism ministry is planning to attract tourists through sports like golf and polo, the ToI reported, citing sources. This year India's golf courses, have found mention in the ministry's Incredible India! brochure apart from the usual heritage sites. An effort to initiate a 'Look East' strategy is said to be on to spur tourism in Manipur's polo grounds and Northeast's manicured golf courses.
The country is witnessing 22-25 per cent growth in medical tourism and healthcare providers expect the industry will double to $6 billion by 2018 from $3 billion now, Business Standard reported earlier.
The ministries of health, external affairs, tourism and culture are working to increase the number of medical tourists. The government provides online visas, multiple entries, extensions of stay, and accreditation to more hospitals. Several other measures are underway, according to the Indian Medical Association (IMA). “The government has improved the visa policy to make it patient friendly. There is no waiting time for foreign patients at hospitals,” said Radhey Mohan, vice president, international business development, at Apollo Hospitals. The chain received 170,000 foreign patients from 87 countries during 2016-17.
The Medical Tourism Market Report: 2015 found that India was "one of the lowest cost and highest quality of all medical tourism destinations, it offers wide variety of procedures at about one-tenth the cost of similar procedures in the United States."