Americans are most enthusiastic about travelling to India, in terms of the number of visitors to the country in 2011, followed by the British and our neighbours in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Over one million American citizens and 0.8 million British visited India for various reasons in 2011. Travellers from the two countries make up over a quarter of all foreigners visiting India. Canadians also make up a sizeable proportion of foreign travellers to India.
The top destination for foreign travellers in India is Maharashtra, as per data from the Ministry of Tourism, which shows that nearly a quarter of all foreign visitors travelled to the State from their respective countries. Tamil Nadu was the next big destination, with a 17.3 per cent share of arrivals. The national capital, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan rounded up the top five Indian destinations for foreign travellers.
Rise in foreign traveller flows
In terms of foreign travellers into India, Western Europe was the largest contributor in the year ended December 2010, accounting for 1.7 million arrivals. This was higher than inflows of 1.1 million visitors from North America and one million from South Asia. However, East European nations have witnessed the biggest rise in traveller flows to India, with the number of visitors swelling by 49 per cent between 2007 and 2010, followed by Central and South American travellers, whose numbers grew by 48.2 per cent.
But the number of foreign travellers visiting India is paltry when compared with the number of domestic holidaymakers that travel the span of the country on holiday, business and spiritual matters. As against the 19.5 million foreigners who visited various locations in India during 2011, a whopping 850 million visits were logged by Indian citizens during the one-year period. This translated into 8.8 per cent growth in foreign traveller visits and a 13.8 per cent rise in visits by Indian travellers to various places in the country.
Best places to holiday in India
For domestic vacationers, the best place to holiday was Uttar Pradesh, which accounted for 18.3 per cent of visits in 2011. The State was followed closely by Andhra Pradesh, courting 18 per cent of domestic travellers. Tamil Nadu also figured in the list of the top five destinations — attracting 16.2 per cent of domestic travellers — ahead of Karnataka (9.9 per cent) and Maharashtra (6.5 per cent). These five States together accounted for over two-thirds of domestic travellers’ visits in India.