Every year, Canadian online travel agency FlightHub releases their top holiday destinations. While some destinations will always remain near the top of the FlightHub review, there are always variations on the FlightHub list. One big change I saw in the most recent list from FlightHub was the number of destinations based in India.
While India is considered to be a culturally significant country with beautiful sights to behold, I was indeed surprised to see that India had so many highly ranked destinations on the FlightHub list when compared to more established and cheaper North American tourist destinations like New York City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. I decided to take a look at some of the factors that may be playing into this.
First things first, let’s take a look at the tourism picture in India. Tourism is a growing industry in India. In 2012, 6.6 per cent of India’s GDP was generated via the tourism industry, accounting for a total of US$95 billion. This in turn supported 39.5 million jobs, making up 7.7 per cent of all employment in India. One sector in particular, the medical tourism sector, is estimated grow by 30 per cent yearly. It is currently ranked as the 38th most visited nation. India’s tourism industry is growing so fast that they barely have the capacity to accommodate these visitors, sporting a very low hotels per capita and weak ATM penetration.
But what has contributed to the surge in travel reported by FlightHub? One major development has been the launch and expansion of India’s e-Tourist Visa program. This online service has made it much easier for travellers to get their paperwork in order when travelling to India. While this seems like a good idea, it actually has been a game changer for the country. When comparing October 2015 with October 2014, the difference is astounding, with an improvement of 1987.9 per cent more tourists entering the country in just that month alone. This service will be made available to travellers from 180 countries over several phases.
Secondly, India’s tourism industry has benefited from the general economic uplift India has been experiencing. With one of the World’s largest and fastest growing economies, India has been singlehandedly proving the concept that economic prosperity floats all boats when it comes to individual sectors of the economy.
Travel is a key indicator of general economic health. With India’s massively surging economy and transformation into a first world country, it should come as no surprise that all that India needed was a spark to ignite their tourism industry. That spark came in the form of their massively successful e-Tourist Visa program. This program hasn’t just fostered growth in the industry, it has essentially birthed it, making it far easier to visit India without the stress of miles of paperwork. With this in mind, companies like FlightHub better get used to seeing India dominate their year end numbers now and going forward.