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India's tourism industry is growing at a robust pace. Percentage growth figures are impressive. But the starting base is quite low. India still attracts less tourists than Indonesia or Thailand.

Accoding to the UNWTO the global travel market totaled 842 million travelers in 2006 (2005: 806 million; 2004: 763 million; 2003: 689 million).
 
Regional marketsize in million travelers and % marketshare :

Region

2003

2004

2005

2006

2006 % m.s.

Americas

113

126

134

136

16%

Europe

396

415

432

448

53%

Asia Pacific

120

153

165

177

21%

India

2.7

3.4

3.9

4.4

0.52%



The total revenue generated by global international tourism receipts was €437.5 billion in 2003 and €518.3 billion in 2004.

Regional marketsize in billion € and % marketshare :

Region

2003

2004

2004 % m.s.

Americas

95

110

21.2

Europe

236

272

52.5

Asia Pacific

80

104

20.1

India

2.9

4.0

0.80


India is taking a comparitively larger share of the generated revenue when compared to other regions at a ration of 1 : 1.78

Development total India foreign arrivals market in million persons :

Year

No. Arrivals

2001

2.54

2002

2.38

2003

2.73

2004

3.37

2005

3.85

2006

4.43



Country of origin in % :

Country

% Share

USA

13.9

UK

13.6

Sri Lanka

3.9

France

3.8

Canada

3.5

Germany

2.9

Japan

2.9

Malaysia

2.1

Australia

2.0

Italy

1.8


The current trend with both the national administration as well as individual state governments is to recognize the major potential international tourism offers, not only as a source of revenue and foreign exchange but also as a tool of development for lesser developed area's.

Foreign Exchange Earnings Develoment in billion € :

Year

Direct Forex Earnings

Indirect Forex Earnings

Total

2001

2.6

0.55

3.15

2002

2.6

0.53

3.13

2003

3.0

0.64

3.64

2004

3.9

0.87

4.77

2005

4.5

1.00

5.55



As a travel destination India has enormous wealth on offer for every type of tourist. It can cater to upper class travelers as well as students on a shoestring budget.

Figures are sometimes distorted. Foreign tourist arrivals are still very low but domestic tourism is buoyant already. In 1991 the total number of domestic tourists stood at 66.7 million people. In 2004 this had grown to 367.7 million, an increase of more than 500%. This does of course include many daytrippers as well as only 1-2 night stays.

Main destination states domestic tourists :

State

% Share 

Uttar Pradesh

24.4

Andhra Pradesh

24.4

Tamil Nadu

11.5

Karnataka

7.4

Rajasthan

4.4

Maharashtra

3.6

West Bengal

3.4

Uttranchal

3.2

Madhya Pradesh

2.3

Bihar

2.2



Main tourist destinations are e.g. Uttar Pradesh (Taj Mahal) and Rajasthan, both for foreign as well as domestic tourists.

The fact that Uttar Pradesh ranks no. 1 among domestic tourists lies in the fact that it is home to the Taj Mahal at Agra but also has within it's borders several major holy cities e.g. Varanasi (previously Benares) for the Hindus and Sarntah for Buddhists. Many Hindus will undertake a yearly pilgrimage to Varanasi to bathe in the Ganges and ritually wash away their sins.

Rajasthan attracts 1/3 of all foreign tourists. The specific local culture as well as unique (luxury) experiences e.g. the Palace on Wheels are major attractions. Being able to attract this large share of foreign travelers is impressive but domestic tourism stands at over 16 million.

Many states are targeting the international travel market now individually e.g. Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh etc. The individual state tourism organizations mostly all have their own promotial infrastructure.

The Indian tourism industry has seen a good growth over the last 2-3 years. The international promotion campaign "Incredible India" has been successfully implemented and will be prolonged.

India has the potential to attract many more foreign visitors than it does now. When compared with foreign hospitality industry levels as well as different industry segments within India itself it is obvious to see the potential. In order to be able to tap into this huge and annually growing market it is necessary to offer a complete package to foreign visitors.

The culture and sights of India are unique and leave an overwhelming impression. But in order to be able to ensure steady growth the total infrastructural picture needs to be addressed :
- International airports : development and design
- Sufficient hotelroom capacity in all categories
- Proper domestic transport infra-structure

From a foreign point of view this is sometimes still lacking. But when taking into account the huge domestic tourist market the Indian hospitality industry be forgiven that more focus is towards that particular customer segment than to the foreign visitor market. 

The combined efforts and focus of the national and state governments to invest and attract investment in the tourism infra-structure will ensure further growth and opportunities within the Indian tourism industry, both for domestic markets as well as foreign.