India Insight

With the Games to come, 2010 looking rosy for India tourism

Tourism is big business in India and according to new figures released on Wednesday, business is booming.

A tourist takes a photograph in front of the Taj Mahal in the tourist city of Agra May 15, 2006. REUTERS/Brijesh Singh

Despite continued warnings of the threat of militant attacks in the country and sluggish growth in international traveller numbers following the global downturn, India’s tourism numbers bucked a downfall last year to post close to double-digit growth last month, resulting in an almost $1 billion windfall for the industry.

Foreign visitors jumped 9 percent during August compared to last year, with 382,000 entries during the month. A cumulative total since January of 3,467,000 is up 9.7 percent on 2009, according to India’s Ministry for External Affairs.

(Full coverage of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games)

For India’s hotels, restaurants, tourist sites and shops, higher visitor numbers means higher revenues — in August, revenues touched $992 million, an increase of $70 million from the same period last year.

Perhaps most encouraging for industry players, and the government’s Incredible India tourism campaign, the rise in visitors comes during a year that has seen bomb attacks and civil unrest.

Europe-bound passengers stranded at Delhi airport

Europe-bound passengers were still stranded at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport on Tuesday, five days after European airports were cut off from the rest of the world by a huge volcanic ash cloud. Some of the affected travellers spoke to Reuters at the airport about their desperate efforts to get home.

Polish tourist Joanna was travelling from Sri Lanka to Poland.

Paolo Ficara, an Italian, has returned to India after a visit to Nepal and Bhutan.

Tomasso Berreti, also an Italian, was supposed to fly back to Italy three days ago.