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Monday, 06 August, 2018, 12 : 45 PM [IST]

Overnights Please!

World over, countries have realised the tremendous impact tourism has on their GDP growth and the economy, at large. Not to be left behind India is also 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. We ended the year 2017 with over 10 million foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs).

Considering India’s potential, the number appears to be relatively low, however, the overnights figure is impressive. While there is no exact statistical data to measure the overnights India as a destination records, it’s a well-known fact that India is a medium to long stay destination for many visitors. Projections differ, most holiday-makers stay on an average for 15 days to 3 weeks. When multiplied by the number (of FTAs) or a percentage of the number, one gets 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 exact data to measure how many nights a visitor spends either on business or leisure or for visiting friends and relatives, before embarking on 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, homestays and paying guest accommodations. This isn’t an arduous task as almost all providers of accommodation gather data of the guests at the time of check-in, including making photocopies of passport, driving license or other forms of identification. Suffice to say that at time of check-in, it’s possible to identify whether it is an international, domestic or SAARC country traveller. This information is readily available; what needs to be done is to feed it to a statistic gathering organisation who will then release the figures on a monthly basis to various agencies which need such data. Tourist-friendly India will receive invaluable information from this source and in turn the States and Centre will be able to make and meet projections with greater accuracy.

When such information is available, 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 centres, forest reserves and sanctuaries, 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 and non-resident Indian traffic are also on the rise over the years. In the absence of any efficient method of calculating this figure, it could be on the back burner for the time being. For starters, let’s begin with overnights at commercial establishments. Working with two parameters is better than having just one.

Hector Dsouza
President - L’orient Travels,
The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.
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