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Tourism in India

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New7Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal in Agra is a popular tourist destination.
Hall of Thousand Pillars at Meenakshi Amman Temple at Madurai
Parshvantha temple at Khajuraho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its sculptural marvels

Tourism in India is economically important and is growing rapidly. The World Travel & Tourism Council calculated that tourism generated 15.24 lakh crore (US$230 billion) or 9.4% of the nation's GDP in 2017 and supported 41.622 million jobs, 8% of its total employment. The sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.9% to 32.05 lakh crore (US$480 billion) by 2028 (9.9% of GDP).[1] In October 2015, India's medical tourism sector was estimated to be worth US$3 billion. It is projected to grow to $7–8 billion by 2020.[2] In 2014, 184,298 foreign patients traveled to India to seek medical treatment.[3]

Over 10 million foreign tourists arrived in India in 2017 compared to 8.89 million in 2016, recording a growth of 15.6%.[4][5][6][7] Domestic tourist visits to all states and Union Territories numbered 1,036.35 million in 2012, an increase of 16.5% from 2011.[8] In 2014, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were the most popular states for tourists.[9] Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Agra and Jaipur have been the five most visited cities of India by foreign tourists during the year 2015. Worldwide, Delhi is ranked at 28 by the number of foreign tourist arrivals, while Mumbai is ranked at 30, Chennai at 43, Agra at 45, Jaipur at 52 and Kolkata at 90.[10]

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for the year 2017, ranked India 40th out of 136 countries overall. The report ranks the price competitiveness of India's tourism sector 10th out of 136 countries. It mentions that India has quite good air transport (ranked 32nd), particularly given the country's stage of development, and reasonable ground transport infrastructure (ranked 29th). The country also scores high on natural and cultural resources (ranked 9th).[11] Some other aspects of its tourism infrastructure remain somewhat underdeveloped however. The nation has very few hotel rooms per capita by international comparison and low ATM penetration.[12] The World Tourism Organization reported that India's receipts from tourism during 2012 ranked 16th in the world, and 7th among Asian and Pacific countries.[13]

The Ministry of Tourism designs national policies for the development and promotion of tourism. In the process, the Ministry consults and collaborates with other stakeholders in the sector including various Central Ministries/agencies, state governments, Union Territories and the representatives of the private sector. Concerted efforts are being made to promote new forms of tourism such as rural, cruise, medical and eco-tourism.[14] The Ministry maintains the Incredible India campaign focused on promoting tourism.

Visa policy of India

Visa policy of India
  Freedom of movement
  Visa on arrival
  Visa required
  Government clearance required in advance

India requires citizens of most countries to have a valid passport and apply for a visa at their local Indian embassy or consulate, before they travel. They can apply directly by mail or in person, or through their local travel services company. India has recently implemented an online method for citizens of 40 countries to apply and receive an e-Tourist Visa.[15] Nationals of Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal do not require a visa. Citizens of Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, DPR Korea, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, South Africa and Uruguay are not required to pay a fee when obtaining Indian visa.[16][17]

A Protected Area Permit (PAP) is required to enter the states of Nagaland and Sikkim and some parts of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Special permits are needed to enter Lakshadweep Islands.[18]

e-Tourist visaa

To boost tourism,[19] the Indian Government implemented a new visa policy in November 2014 that allows visitors to obtain a visa on arrival at 16 designated international airports by acquiring an Electronic Travel Authorisation online before arrival without having to visit an Indian consulate or visa centre.[20] As a result, 56,477 tourists arrived on an e-Tourist Visa during the October 2015 compared to 2,705 during October 2014, an increase of 1987.9%. During January–October 2015 a total of 2,58,182 tourists arrived on an e-Tourist Visa as compared with 21,995 during January–October 2014, an increase of 1073.8%.[21]

On 27 November 2014, India introduced its visa on arrival enabled by ETA facility for tourists and business visitors, to citizens of following countries – Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu and Vietnam.[15] The facility was extended to China, Macau and Hong Kong on 30 July 2015.[22] The facility was further extended to citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Belgium, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, East Timor, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, Malaysia, Mongolia, Monaco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Seychelles, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela on 15 August 2015.[23]

The visa on arrival requires a tourist to apply online on a secure government of India website, at least four to 30 days before the date of travel. If approved, the passenger must print and carry the approved visa with the travel documents. The visa allows holders of Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter and stay anywhere in India for 30 days. The ETA can be obtained twice in a single calendar year.[15] The visa on arrival facility is expected to be expanded to about 180 countries over time. In April 2015 the scheme was renamed to e-Tourist Visa in order to avoid confusion.[24]


Foreign tourist arrivals and foreign exchange earnings

Foreign tourist arrivals by source country

Source countries for foreign tourist arrivals in India in 2016[25]
Rank Country Number Share in %
1 Bangladesh 1,380,409 15.68
2 United States 1,296,939 14.73
3 United Kingdom 941,883 10.7
4 Canada 317,239 3.6
5 Malaysia 301,961 3.43
6 Sri Lanka 297,418 3.38
7 Australia 293,625 3.33
8 Germany 265,928 3.02
9 China 251,313 2.85
10 France 238,707 2.71
Total of top 10 5,585,422 63.43
Other countries 3,218,989 36.57
Grand total 8,804,411 100

Foreign and domestic tourist visits by State

World Heritage Sites

There are 36 World Heritage Sites in India that are recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of August 2017.[28][29] These are places of importance of cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.[30]


Further reading

  • Gupta, S. P., and Krishna Lal. 1974. Tourism, museums, and monuments in India. Delhi: Oriental Publishers.

Outline of Tourism in India


  1. ^ "Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2018 India" (PDF). World Travel and Tourism Council. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "Indian medical tourism industry to touch $8 billion by 2020: Grant Thornton – The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "Promotion of Medical Tourism". Press Information Bureau. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Sanjay Kumar (15 January 2018). "15.2% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in December, 2017 Over December, 2016; 48.3% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals on e-Tourist visa in December, 2017 Over December, 2016". Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  5. ^ Team, BS Web (17 January 2018). "India attracted 10 mn foreign tourists in 2017, sports to bring more". Business Standard India. Retrieved 11 February 2018. 
  6. ^ "Performance of Tourism Sector during December, 2016" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 28 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "13.6% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in December 2016 Over the Same Period in 2015". Press Information Bureau. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "India's Domestic Tourists increase by 16% crossing 1 Billion Mark". Indo-Asian News Service. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "Tamil Nadu, UP pip Goa as tourist havens". 
  10. ^ Bremner, Caroline. "Top 100 City Destinations Ranking" (PDF). Euromonitor International. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015 – India". Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "WEF Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index". World Economic Forum. 2013. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Rank in Tourism" (Press release). Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Annual Report 2009–10" (PDF). Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. 6 April 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c Tourist Visa on Arrival Government of India (2014)
  16. ^ "Indian Visa fee schedule for all nationalities" (PDF). Consulate General of India, Hong Kong. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2018. 
  17. ^ Country/Territory Wise e-Visa Fee
  18. ^ "Visa Information – India". Timatic. IATA. Archived from the original on 17 May 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "India announces new visa rules to boost tourism numbers". Yahoo News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "India to extend visa-on-arrival to tourists from 180 countries". Zee News. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  21. ^ "1988% growth registered in tourist visa-on-arrival in October". The Times of India. 18 November 2015. 
  22. ^ Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme to China, Hong Kong and Macau from tomorrow
  23. ^ Press Note – Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme to 36 more countries and 7 more airports from 15 August 2015
  24. ^ "Government Changes Name of Visa on Arrival Scheme to E-Tourist Visa". 14 April 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "India Tourism Statistics at a Glance 2017" (PDF). 
  26. ^ "Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India during December 2016 and comparative figures of 2015 and 2014" (XLS). Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  27. ^ Sanjay Kumar (17 January 2018). "Foreign Exchange Earnings (in Rupee and US $ Terms) through Tourism in India in December 2017". Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Tourism. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  28. ^ "Properties Inscribed on the World heritage List". UNESCO. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  29. ^ "World Heritage Day: Five must-visit sites in India". 
  30. ^ "The World Heritage Convention". UNESCO. Retrieved 21 September 2010. 
  31. ^ The Tourism Rank

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External links

  • Tourism Help Line
  • Telangana Tourism, Government of India
  • India travel and tourism at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
  • Ministry of Tourism, India
  • Visa on Arrival, Government of India
  • Bradnock, Roma (2004). Footprint India Footprint Travel Guides, Bath, UK. ISBN 1-904777-00-7.
  • DeBruyn, Pippa; Bain, Keith; Venkatraman, Niloufer (2010). Frommer's India.
  • "India in One, Two or Three Weeks". The New York Times. 23 March 2012. 
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