Think Delhi is unsafe and has bad air? Well, although these intangible aspects had an impact on Delhi's pull as a tourist attraction, it is still the "destination leader" , according to the 5th biennial Hotelivate State Ranking Survey for Tourism. The Survey looks at States from the hospitality industry’s standpoint. Overall too, surprising though it may sound given the high decibel marketing and work put in by States such as Rajasthan and Kerala, Delhi tops the charts.

According to the survey, done in association with the World Travel World Travel & Tourism Council-India Initiative (WTTC-II), the top five states in tourism rankings are Delhi, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. The eleven parameters that the surveyors have looked at are: state expenditure on tourism, number of tourist visits, number of branded hotel rooms, GSDP per capital, literacy, aircraft movement, ease of doing business, urbanization, road and rail network, urbanization, marketing campaigns and some intangible aspects.

If you consider these parameters, then the reason why Delhi tops is self evident, as being the capital and a major port of entry and exit it has many advantages, especially in terms of aircraft movement and hotel rooms. Interestingly, even though it does well on most parameters it fares poorly in Ease of Doing Business and intangible aspects (this could include safety).

Tamil Nadu ranked fourth overall is on top when it comes to tourist visits, to which according to the survey, medical tourism has been a large contributor. However, in terms of Ease of Doing Business the state has dropped six places since the last survey and the state government spends the least on tourism expenditure (just 0.015 per cent of total expenditure). If the expenditure were to be upped, this is a state with great potential in tourism, finds the survey.

At the Awards function on Tuesday night held at the Park Hotel in Delhi, state performers in seven categories were recognised. Assam got the award for best policy and leadership in tourism among the states, while Telengana bagged the honours for ‘Investment attractiveness’. Rajasthan got the Marketing Innovation award. Among the North Eastern states, which were grouped in a separate category, Sikkim topped.

The purpose of doing this survey, according to author of the report, Manav Thadani, Chairman HVS, was to encourage the States to pull up their socks and do more. Both he as well as Rashmi Verma, Secretary - Tourism & Culture, Government of India, rued the insufficient attention towards tourism investment by the states. No state spent more than one per cent of their total expenditure on tourism.

Verma also pointed out that certain parameters on which the states had been assessed – eg Security and Literacy - was out of the control of the tourism departments. There are certain challenges that the tourism unit can take action on and certain for which dependent on other ministries, she said.

The call for more investments in tourism is pertinent as Travel and Tourism's total contribution to GDP in India was 9.6 per cent ($208.9 billion or ₹14,018.5 billion) in 2016,and it is forecast to rise by 6.7 per cent in 2017.

Overall, India registered roughly 8 million international tourist arrivals in 2015 which grew by 9.7 per cent to almost 8.8 million international tourist arrivals in 2016 (exclusive of NRI arrivals and transit arrivals).

In 2016, an estimated $22.9 billion was earned as Foreign Exchange Earnings; an 8.8 per cent increase over the approximate $21.1 billion earned in 2015.