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Foreign exchange earnings from tourism at 12-month low, shows data

Number of Indians travelling abroad at a multi-year high, shows government data

foreign exchange

Ashli Varghese

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Foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India are growing at less than 2 per cent.

May saw $2.13 billion, a 1.7 per cent increase over the same period last year, show government figures released with a lag.

The growth in March was 33 per cent. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism in India is at a twelve-month low in May this year. 

Earnings remained around $3 billion in December, January and February this year.

In the last four years, the highest earnings were in December 2019, reaching $3.2 billion. It plummeted to $0.01 billion in April 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the lowest since 2019. 

The pandemic impacted the foreign tourists visiting the country, with less than 3,000 arrivals in April 2020.  

The earnings slowdown comes on the back of lower growth in the number of foreign tourists. Arrivals are down 0.3 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) to 0.6 million in May. 

Foreign tourist inflows have been the lowest since June 2023.

After a prolonged decline in foreign tourist arrivals due to the pandemic, the industry began to recover as travel restrictions eased.

Although it had not yet reached the pre-pandemic high of December 2019, when 1.23 million tourists visited, there was a noticeable improvement.

The number of arrivals reached 1.07 million in December 2023, the highest since 2020, according to data in the monthly statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism, and the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, though the numbers have since weakened.

Meanwhile, Indians travelling abroad have reached a multi-year high.

In May this year, 2.9 million Indians travelled abroad – a 13.9 per cent Y-o-Y rise.

Bangladesh remained the largest source of foreign tourists, accounting for 20.3 per cent of all arrivals, followed by the US (16.7 per cent), the UK (10.5 per cent), Canada (4.8 per cent) and Australia (4.4 per cent), according to the report, which covers data for the first five months of this year.

The top five destinations accounted for over fifty per cent of Indians travelling abroad.

One-third of the Indians travelling abroad went to the two countries of the Gulf region, standing out as the top source for outbound Indians, with 25 per cent travelling to the United Arab Emirates and 10.9 per cent to Saudi Arabia.

Other top destinations in May included the USA (7.2 per cent), Thailand (5.9 per cent), and Singapore (5 per cent).

The largest city of departure for Indian tourists is Delhi (23.76 per cent), followed by Mumbai (20.11 per cent). Other cities in this list include Kochi (7.38 per cent), Chennai (7.2 per cent) and Hyderabad (7.12 per cent).

For every foreign tourist arrival in May, there were five Indian departures. 

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 4:15 PM IST

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