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India's travel trade shoots down reports on declining arrivals
Rohit Kaul, New Delhi, April 4, 2013

VARIOUS industry members have come out to flay reports citing a fall in tourist arrivals to India, mostly based on a survey recently released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).


ASSOCHAM’s survey asserted that there had been a 35 per cent drop in the number of foreign women travellers to India over the last three months, while overall tourist arrivals had plunged 25 per cent (TTG Asia e-Daily, April 2, 2013) after a spate of high-profile attacks on women.


“I would like to say on record that tourist arrivals into India in January and February have been positive, not negative as reported,” said K Chiranjeevi, India’s tourism minister.


“Foreign tourist arrivals to India have grown by 2.1 per cent in these two months and foreign exchange earnings have risen by 19.8 per cent in terms of rupees,” he revealed.


The ministry said foreign tourist arrivals in January and February were 699,000 and 688,000 respectively, up from 681,000 and 677,000 respectively last year.


Meanwhile, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has also written to ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat expressing its “unhappiness” that the association had not been approached to take part in the survey.


“We have to take into consideration that more than six million foreign tourists visit our country and one or two unfortunate events can happen. It should not put a question mark on the security and safety of our foreign tourists. Such condemnable incidents happen in other countries too at times,” said Subhash Goyal, president, IATO.


“We are not seeing any decline in tourist arrivals. We have also written to ASSOCHAM to say that they should also consult an apex tour operator body like us when they conduct a survey involving foreign tourist arrivals,” he added. 


Calling the survey baseless, Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director, Creative Travel India, also questioned the survey’s credibility.


“ASSOCHAM said that they surveyed 1,200 tour operators from different cities, which doesn’t seem to be true. I have spoken to many tour operators including some big names but none was approached for this survey,” he said. “We have been witnessing growth of 25 per cent and the mood remains positive among most of the tour operators.”

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