INDIA posted a 5.4 per cent year-on-year increase in inbound tourist arrivals for 2012, a trickle compared to growth in the previous year, which members of the trade attribute to a weak global economy and the country's lack of tourism infrastructure.
Although India recorded 6.7 million arrivals last year compared to 6.3 million in 2011, the growth in 2011 was 8.9 per cent. In 2010, arrivals growth was even higher at 11.8 per cent.
Travel consultants believe that while the slowdown may be attributed to the economic recession in key source markets and high airfares, the overwhelming reason is insufficient efforts to transform India into a tourist destination relative to rival countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Egypt and Turkey.
Rakesh Ramnani, director-leisure, Vensimal World Travel Kolkata, said: “We need to develop tourist destinations with suitable infrastructure in all parts of India as we are blessed with natural attractions.
“We need more international gateway airports, an easier visa regime, user-friendly frontline servicing, cruise terminals and an eye for crucial basic services that affect a tourist’s experience."
“Due to the double taxation in many states, high room rates and domestic airfare, India’s itineraries are quite expensive and may not be attractive enough when the client is shopping around for Asian travel,” added Veneeta Rawat, director of Amazing Vacations Mumbai.