INDIA (eTN) – The world over, countries realize the tremendous impact tourism has on their GDP growth and the economy at large. Not to be left behind, India is taking huge strides to garner maximum footfalls from foreign skies, with a number of tourist-friendly policies ranging from electronic visa approvals to providing airports with an ambience and decor befitting international standards. 2014 ended with over 7.50 million international visitors to India as compared to 6.96 million visitors in 2013.
Although numbers appear relatively low, it’s the overnights that are more appealing to India’s tourism sector. While there is no exact statistical data to measure the overnights India as a destination receives, it is a well-known fact India is a medium- to long-stay destination for many visitors. Projections differ, as most holidaymakers stay on an average of fifteen days to three weeks. When multiplied by the number or a percentage of the number, it reveals an impressive figure.
Computer-savvy and Internet-friendly India could easily evolve a system of measuring overnight stays as compared to simply providing arrival numbers. Monument friendly Delhi gets a huge number of arrivals, yet there is no exacting data to measure how many nights a visitor spends either on business or pleasure or for visiting friends and relatives in Delhi before embarking for yet another destination. In the absence of dependable data, the onus falls back on arrivals.
Overnight data when being compiled would refer to visitors spending overnights at hotels, boarding houses, boutique resorts, luxury hotels, dormitories, home stay, and paying guest accommodation. This isn’t an onerous, as almost all providers of accommodation gather data of the guest at the time of check-in, including making photocopies of passports, a driving license, or other forms of identification. Suffice to say at time of check-in, it’s possible to identify whether it’s an international, domestic, or SAARC country traveler. The information is readily available, so what needs to be done is to feed it to a statistical gathering organization who will then release the figures on a monthly basis to various agencies in need of such data. Tourist-friendly India will receive invaluable information from this source, and in turn, the state and center will be able to make and meet projections with greater accuracy.
With the available information, local governments and municipalities will be able to further increase facilities for tourists, ranging from providing clean drinking water, hygienic sanitation systems, scientific vehicle and crowd control, as well as providing better logistical support at heritage monuments, international convention centers, forest reserves and sanctuaries, as well as beaches and high-rise mountain regions.
What can be left out of this data is the number of visitors arriving to meet and stay with friends and relatives in India. Ethnic traffic and non-resident Indian traffic is on the increase over the years. As there is no efficient method of calculating this figure, it could be on the back burner for the time being. For starters let’s begin with overnights. Working with two parameters is better than having just one.