COVID-19 travel restrictions: Less than 3 million foreign tourists visited India in 2020, says government

NEW DELHI: Less than three million foreign tourists visited India in 2020, a dip of around 75 per cent as compared to the previous year, due to travel restrictions imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said that while in 2019, the number of foreign tourist arrivals was 10.93 million, the number stood at 10.56 million in 2018.

It was in 2017 that foreign tourist arrivals crossed the 10 million-mark.

There were 10.4 million arrivals in that year, he said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.

Last year, foreign tourist arrivals stood at 2.68 million and “no formal study has been instituted for assessment of loss of revenue in 2020”, Patel said.

“However, several rounds of discussions and brainstorming sessions with industry stakeholders indicate massive loss of revenue, foreign exchange and jobs. In view of the highly unorganised nature of the sector, the impact in numerical terms can only be ascertained in due course,” the minister said.

“With an aim to incentivize stakeholders in the tourism industry, the guidelines for the scheme of Market Development Assistance (MDA) for providing financial support to stakeholders for the promotion of domestic tourism have been modified to enhance the scope and reach of the scheme, so as to provide maximum benefits to the stakeholders,” Patel told the House.

In addition, promotional activities have been incorporated including online promotions and the extent of financial assistance permissible has been enhanced, he said.

Tourism departments of states and union territories are also now eligible for obtaining financial support under the scheme, Patel said.