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Destinations To Unwind In

With intensive publicity, ease of travel and stay, faster visa approvals, India can match the tourist spendings in the US.

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In 2017, the World Tourism Organisation ranked 15 countries as most sought after by global tourists, reports Visual Capitalist. Not surprisingly, the United States topped the list with 75 million tourists annually, who spend a whopping $210 billion or nearly $2,800 per head.

While France boasts of 12 million more tourists than the United States at 87 million, their average expenditure is less than a third of those in the United States, at roughly $700. Spain attracts 82 million tourists, whose per capita spending is a little above $800. Within the European Union, Italy is the only other country whose tourist arrivals cross the 50 million-mark (at 58 million), but there too, the average expenditure of the tourists is similar to that in France. 

What determines this huge discrepancy in tourist spendings? Market research data offers some clues. The US beckons large numbers to its vast land. They visit Disneyland, Los Angeles, Hawaii, New York, the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone Park, to name just a few attractions, which entail a great deal of travel. 

China competes with the United States in attracting tourists and succeeds in getting 61 million visits annually and a per capita spending of $500. The United Kingdom attracts 38 million tourists, Germany attracts 37 million and Thailand gets 35 million tourists in a year. These attractive countries are good places to unwind in, grossing revenues that range from $1000 to $1500 per tourist. Turkey and Mexico are in the same league and gross revenues of $38 million and $39 million respectively from tourist traffic. The average tourist expenditures there are $600 per person only. Obviously, nations that offer more attractions, earn more from tourism.In the wired world, social media facilitates travel planning by providing data on where to go, for how long and what to do.  

Global gambling den Macao beats India, which has an annual tourist traffic of about 15.5 million. Macao attracts 17 million tourists, who gamble furiously during their visit and spend more than $2,000 per head. In India, tourists want to see so much and end up spending just a little less than what they spend in Macao.   

With intensive publicity, ease of travel and stay, faster visa approvals, Incredible India can match the per capita expenditure of tourists in the US too in the years to come, for India has as much diversity on display. To get there, however, a holistic tourism plan is required, with a trustworthy infrastructure.

The global dynamics of tourism throw up bewildering data. Japan and Hong Kong, both get 28 million tourists a year, who spend $1,200 per capita. Far flung Australia, which only attracts nine million tourists annually, manages to entice an expenditure of $4,500 per head. New  Zealand is a little less attractive at 3.6 million visiting the country, who spend $3,000 per head. Surprisingly, Lebanon beats New Zealand, to attract 1.9 million tourists a year, who incur a per capita expenditure of $3,500  a feat few countries can parallel. Tourism obviously, responds best to better publicity especially on social media, ease of travel, comfort and of course, unique attractions. Is Incredible India there yet?    

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

J.K. Dadoo

The author is a retired IAS officer

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