India trails behind 41 countries in tourist arrivals

June 10th, 2008 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) India may like to think that it draws a lot of foreign tourists, but the fact is that the many-splendoured land of the Taj Mahal gets far fewer visitors than much smaller nations like Ukraine, Tunisia, Croatia and Saudi Arabia, says a report. While India received 4.44 million tourists in 2006, it lagged far behind Ukraine, which got 15.62 million tourists, Tunisia (6.55 million), Croatia (8.65 million) and Saudi Arabia (8.03 million).

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

In 1998, India stood 47th in the world ranking, which went up to 54 in 2002, 44 in 2004, 41 in 2005 and 42 in 2006.

“India’s share in international tourist arrivals, though increasing in recent years, is still quite low at 0.52 percent in 2006,” the report states.

On top of the list is France (79.08 million), followed by Spain (58.45 million), the US (51.06 million), China (49.6 million), Italy (41.05 million), Britain (30.65 million), Germany (23.56 million) and Mexico (21.35 million).

According to the report, international tourist arrivals worldwide registered a growth of 5.4 percent during the year 2006 compared to 5.5 percent during 2005 and 10 percent during 2004 over previous years. The total international tourist arrivals in 2006 was 846 million.

The top 10 international tourist attracting countries in 2006 accounted for around 47 percent share. Region-wise, the highest tourist arrivals were in Europe, which attracted 461.0 million tourists in 2006, a 5.1 percent growth over 2005.

In terms of foreign exchange earnings, however, the country has fared better. In 2006, India earned $8.93 billion against $7.49 billion in 2005 - surging ahead of countries like Tunisia and Croatia.

“In recent years, there has been significant growth in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) and foreign exchange earnings (FEE) from tourism. In 2007, the number of FTAs and FEE from tourism was about five million and $12 billion respectively,” said Tourism Secretary S. Banerjee.

France tops the list in terms of foreign exchange earnings too, with Spain, the US, Italy, China, Britain, Germany, Australia and Turkey following behind.

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