Date of Release: October 6th, 2014
Published in: Times of India
The Modi government’s decision to extend ‘visa on arrival’ to US citizens is not just an emotional pitch but makes good economics too. US citizens happen to be the topmost spenders among foreign tourists.
Analysis of tourism ministry and UNWTO data by think-tank Swaniti show that the US citizens are one of the higher spenders in the world with per capita spending at $1350 in 2012. It’s no wonder that India is keen to woo them too.
India received about 6.6 million foreign tourists in 2012 which increased to about 6.9 million in 2013. US is the largest source of foreign tourists to India, accounting for a share of 15.8% or about 1 million tourists. Incidentally, 46% of the tourists traveling from the US come to visit family and friends and spend on shopping, travel and medical treatment among other things.
While much is made of India’s low ranking (it ranks 40th in total foreign tourist arrivals globally) beaten by smaller countries like Thailand and Singapore, the country attracts travelers with deep pockets. We draw one-twelfth of France’s 83 million but rank second only to Australia globally when it comes to per capita spending in the destination country. In fact the per capita spending by foreign tourists in India has increased from $2509 in 2010 to $2732 in 2012.
However, per capita spending by tourists in Australia is about double the amount and has increased steadily. Tourists in Australia spent $4909 in 2010 which increased to $5260 in 2012. Australia and India are followed by United States, Switzerland and Japan where tourists spend most. Tourists traveling to US spent $1893 in 2012 up from $1724 in 2010. Travelers in Switzerland shelled out $1707 in 2010 as compared to 1865 in 2012 while those traveling to Japan spent $1744 in 2012 as compared to 1533 in 2010.
India’s visa on arrival scheme has been a slow starter. During January-July 2014, a total number of 14,415 VoAs were issued as compared to 10,482 VoAs during the corresponding period in 2013 registering a growth of 37.5%. The countries being offered the facility include Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Finland, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Luxembourg, and Laos. India plans to add 40 more countries with the US being one of them.