It gives me immense pleasure to report yet another year of with our business trajectoryunderpinned by outstanding achievements. In our ongoing pursuit of strengthening the BLSconsular service ecosystem we have always maintained a unique culture of creativity todrive the momentum in our innovation. The cornerstone of our vision has always been tofocus upon services quality enhancement continuous process improvement sustainablerevenue streams investment in human capital team empowerment and most importantlyclient satisfaction.
As I reflect on the previous year FY2016-17 has been characterised by robust organicgrowth both in the domestic and international business. We have strategically deepened ourbusiness model and it is very encouraging to see this reflected in our transformationaljourney. In the tourism industry we successfully managed to harness the sectoral growthglobally and be awarded several high-profile consular service contracts during the year.We expanded the reach of our visa passport and consular services to 58 countriesservicing a total of 29 client governments during the year.
However this growth was not only captured through enhanced volume processing in visaand passport consular services but also from the first citizen services (e-governance)project in India. These strategic developments have laid the foundations for a diversifiedbusiness model going into the future. The high degree of service quality productinnovation and customer satisfaction set by BLS in the sphere of visa passport andconsular outsourcing services is unrivalled and we continue to delight customers bytransforming G2C engagements globally. BLS has now been launched into new levels of growthwhich will serve us well in the years to come.
With this in mind the theme for this year's Annual Report is "TransformingGovernance Beyond Boundaries: Creating New Benchmarks".
Financial Performance Review
BLS performed well across all financial and operating parameters during the last year.Our asset-light model coupled with a key focus on further expanding our margins hashelped us deliver another year of strong all-around performance. During the year underreview on a consolidated basis total revenue increased to Rs. 6373 million as comparedto Rs. 5055 million in the previous year a growth of 26.1% y-o-y. EBITDA margin stood at13.3% up by 592 bps over last year mainly contributed by expansion in and exciting grossmargin. PAT for the year stood at Rs. 500 million up by 61.7% y-o-y as compared to Rs.309 million in the previous year.
Our service specialization exceptionally strong execution and an asset light modelhave given shareholders a Return on Equity (ROE) of 30.3% for the year. We also have arobust capital structure with a Debt to Equity ratio of 0.51x and a Net Debt/EBITDA of0.20x. Overall we credit these achievements in large part to our core consular processingand outsourcing services along with our recent expansion into the front end and citizenservices.
Consular Processing and Outsourcing Services
Over the last few decades tourism has experienced continued growth and has now becomeone of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. As per the United Nations' WorldTourism Organization (UNWTO) the number of travelers worldwide increased to 1.2 billion in2015 and is projected to cross 1.8 billion mark by 2030 with an estimated industry growthof over 4% for the year 2016. With this backdrop of rapidly increasing travel demandgovernments are increasingly seeking to outsource visa consular citizen and passportservices.
Since our foundation BLS has concentrated on partnering with governments to managetheir embassies and foreign mission services effectively. During the year we successfullyharnessed the opportunity in the travel sector to be awarded a combination of new andrenewal contracts. The most high profile new contract win for BLS during the year was acontract from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Spain with a value of175 million. This contract was truly a milestone as the first global visaoutsourcing contract for any Indian company from Europe. We were also awarded a newcontract from UAE Consular Manpower Division. We had similar success in the renewal ofcontracts with BLS extending existing contracts for an additional 4 years each from bothRussia and Singapore for outsourcing services. This clearly endorses the strength of ourhigh quality cost-efficient services and the success of our customer centric approach.The addition of these contracts 23 has further enhanced our brand credibility andreinforced our market position as a leading consular service specialist.
With just 31% of the consular services contracts India's first Citizen servicesproject by the Punjab government the previous year. Further in the year under reviewthe real endorsement of our success was achieved through the successful implementation ofthis project and configuring currently being outsourced globally our target market hassignificant potential for expansion.
Today with a global presence spanning over 58 countries and 29 client governments anda total of about 20 million applications processed to date BLS is well positioned totranscend next trajectory of growth.
Front End and Citizen Services
As part of our long-term strategy we are continuing to build a e-service ecosystemthat is aligned to our existing technology platform in the form of Front End and CitizenServices. This complements our processes and enables us to further consolidate ourposition into the niche Front End and Citizen services space. In addition to ourtraditional visa and passport consular services BLS was awarded 2147 service centres ina record time of three months. This enabled us to not only create a new benchmark but alsoestablish for ourselves an additional and recurring revenue stream further strengtheningour cash-rich model.
Globally South East Asian countries are also adopting e-governance model proactively.Ramp up in Citizen services initiatives worldwide shall enable BLS to penetrate highgrowth markets across geographies. Given the first mover advantage of BLS in the thisspace coupled with our experience in the consular service arena we see ourselves ideallypositioned to emerge as the global leader in Front End and Citizen services matrix.
Investing in our People
We have always been proud of our skilled and talented team members who are also thefoundation of our success. They are our greatest strength and most valuable asset thatenables us to compete globally. That is why we continue to invest heavily and relentlesslyin developing our professionals worldwide. During the year we added over 8000 people(both on-roll and associates) who received the best-in-class induction and orientationtraining program. Our existing teams benefitted from development programs focusing oncustomer service excellence technical expertise and managerial capability. We're at anall-time high with over 9000 employees including both on-roll and associates employedacross the world.
Helping us to achieve our goals and bring our vision to life are our extraordinaryteams of global professionals. Throughout all aspects of our customer service deliveryour teamwork relentlessly drive to excellence and mitigate day-to-day problems aiding usin our continued success.
Anchored on our philosophy of enhancing value for our shareholders we have alwaysstrived to break new grounds. During the year the Company achieved another majormilestone by getting listed on the country's major Bombay Stock Exchange and NationalStock Exchange. With this our company now stands listed on three stock exchangesincluding the Bombay Stock Exchange National Stock Exchange and Metropolitan StockExchange. During the year we have not just grown in numbers but have also enhanced ourbrand equity significantly. We now stand at a point where our confidence stands tall andwe look at the future with the optimism and in the process herald a promising tomorrow.
On behalf of the Board I would like to express my sincere thanks to all our clientsfor entrusting us and especially to the returning clients that have instilled innovate andremain on the path of relevance to our clients. I would also like to express my gratitudeand that of the Board to the entire team of BLS for the dedication and professionalismthat they have demonstrated throughout another successful year. I would also like toexpress my gratitude to our shareholders partners vendors customers and creditors fortheir continued support. We are driven to grow our business profitably to create utmostvalue for all our stakeholders.