Guess where Indians love to travel - Singapore, Bahrain!

June 22nd, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) If you thought most Indians travelling abroad would be headed for the US or Europe, think again. Singapore and Bahrain were their most favoured destinations in 2005, says a report. China came a close third for Indians travelling abroad for work or for pleasure, while Thailand came fourth and the US fifth. Hong Kong was sixth on the list, beating Britain, which came seventh among the countries most visited by Indians in 2005.

The findings were from the World Tourism Organisation, a UN agency that compiles global tourism rankings, and were put out in the ministry of tourism’s annual publication India Tourism Statistics.

In 2005, most Indians went to Singapore (583,543), Bahrain (466,849), China (356,460), Thailand (352,766), the US (344,926), Hong Kong (273,487) and Britain (269,000).

Indians preferring to visit Singapore and Bahrain in 2005 was not a one-off trend, the study said. Singapore has emerged the most visited country since 2000, when 346,356 Indians went there.

However, there was a jump - of 237,187 - in the figures for 2005 when a record 583,543 Indians went to the Southeast Asian country.

Bahrain too has been giving tough competition to Western countries as far as attracting Indians is concerned.

The number of Indians visiting the Gulf country has also been seeing a rise since 2000 when the figure was 213,509. In 2004, a record 418,767 Indians went to this Middle East country.

Malaysia seems to be another popular destination with 225,789 visiting the Southeast Asian country in 2005, the report said.

Apart from Bahrain, the other Middle Eastern countries that are favoured by Indians are Saudi Arabia (117,101) and Oman (104,778).

Switzerland with its rolling meadows, majestic deodars, bubbly streams - brought to life so often by Bollywood movies - attracted 93,472 Indians.

Since 2000, the number of Indians visiting Russia - with which India has been traditionally close and where many used to head for their studies till the 1990s - has also gone up. In 2000, 23,476 people visited Russia and in 2005, the figure went up to 42,184.

The report also said the maximum number of Indians went abroad from Mumbai airport (28.4 percent), followed by Delhi (21.2 percent) and Chennai (12.5 percent).

Among India’s neighbouring countries, most Indians preferred travelling to Sri Lanka (113,323) as compared to Pakistan (59,560) in 2005.

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