Foreign tourists have not been deterred by the widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act that have been taking place across the country, according to the the Union tourism ministry.
On Wednesday, Union tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel released numbers indicating that more foreigners have arrived in India in the past two months compared to the corresponding period in 2018.
As per the numbers shared by the minister, compared to 10,12,569 in November 2018, 10,91,946 foreign tourists arrived in India in November last year, a jump of 7.8 per cent. Similarly, compared to 11,91,498 in December 2018, 12,25,672 foreign tourists visited India in December. In a communiqué, Patel said tourists’ arrival increased in 2019 despite ruckus over the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court’s decision on Ram temple, and the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act. According to the tourism ministry data, the sector has seen an upward trend at the time when nine nations have issued travel advisory to their citizens on visiting India.
On the increasing tourist inflow, Patel said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is our brand ambassador and therefore, the numbers of tourist arrivals have increased”. Tourist arrival at Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, increased 35 per cent after the Prime Minister hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping there, he added.
The numbers also suggest that the foreign exchange earnings increased in November and December in 2019 compared to the corresponding months in 2018. In November 2018, the earnings were Rs 16,584 crore, while it was Rs 19,831 crore last year. In December 2018, the foreign exchange earnings were Rs 19,474 crore; it increased to Rs 22,617 crore in December 2019.
But the flow of tourists into the Northeast in December was impacted, especially in Assam and Meghalaya. In Meghalaya, where a large number of tourists are domestic, hoteliers have been complaining about the dip in tourist footfall since the protests against the Act began in November.
Tourism department statistics reveal that 11,97,768 domestic and 18,047 foreign tourists visited Meghalaya in 2018.
In 2017, 989,628 domestic and 12,051 foreign tourists visited Meghalaya, while the corresponding figures in 2016 were 844,646 and 8,449 respectively.
Around 750,470 domestic and 8,027 foreign tourists visited Meghalaya in 2015, while in 2014 there were 717,814 domestic and 8,652 foreign tourists.