India witnesses 11.3% growth in foreign tourist arrivals in February 2016 over the same period in 2015. Bangladesh accounted for the highest share of foreign tourists visiting India followed by tourists from the US and the UK in February 2016.
During the month of February 2016 India earned foreign exchange worth Rs. 13, 627 just through tourism.
Fewer Foreign Tourists Visiting Taj Mahal:
While India has witnessed an increase in the number of foreign tourists, it has been observed that fewer foreign tourists have been visiting Taj Mahal during the year 2012 to 2014.
The number of foreign tourists who visited Taj Mahal in 2012 was 7,43,256, during 2013 it was 6,95,702 and in 2014 it decreased further to 6,48,511.
Reasons for decrease in foreign tourists:
No market study has been done to pinpoint the reasons for fall in footfalls of foreign tourists to Taj Mahal. However, some of the factors determining international tourist arrivals in any tourist destination including Taj Mahal (Agra) are: the prevailing travel trends, economies of the tourism source markets, connectivity, availability of reasonably priced hotel accommodation, good tourism infrastructure etc.
Remedial measures taken by Ministry of Tourism to ensure the safety and security of foreign tourists:
The remedial measures taken by Ministry of Tourism to ensure the safety and security of tourists are important to attract more foreign tourists as rise in crime against foreign tourists is a major reason for drop in foreign visitors. The remedial measeres from Ministry of Tourism for protecting and helping foreign tourists are as under:
- The Ministry of Tourism has launched the 24X7 Toll Free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline in 12 International Languages including Hindi and English on 8th of February 2016. This service is available on the toll free number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 and operational 24X 7 (all days) in a year offering a "multi-lingual helpdesk" in the designated languages to provide support service in terms of providing information relating to Travel and Tourism in India to the domestic and International tourists and to assist the callers with advice on action to be taken during times of distress while travelling in India and if need be alert the concerned authorities. The calls made by tourists (both international and domestic) while in India will be free of charge.
- Adoption of code of conduct for Safe and Honourable Tourism, which contains a set of guidelines to encourage tourism activities to be undertaken with respect to basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents, in particular women and children.
- All the Chief Ministers of the State Governments and Administrators of Union Territory Administrations have been asked to take immediate effective steps for ensuring a conducive and friendly environment for all tourists and also request them to publicise the steps being taken or proposed to be taken to increase the sense of security amongst the present and prospective visitors and also to counter the negative publicity, if any.
- The National Tourism Ministers' Conference was convened on 18th July, 2013 and 21st August 2014 in New Delhi which resolved that the Departments of Tourism of all States and UTs will work for ensuring the safety and security of tourists, especially women. The State Governments and UT Administrations of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have deployed Tourist Police, in one form or the other.
- Grant of Central Financial Assistance to the State Governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for setting up of Tourist Facilitation and Security Organisation (TFSO) on a pilot basis.
- In the wake of some unfortunate incidents happening involving foreign tourists, Ministry of Tourism posts an advisory on its website www.incredibleindia.org.
- The Ministry of Tourism has issued the Guidelines on Safety and Security of Tourists for State Governments/Union Territories and Tips for Travellers in September 2014. These guidelines were sent to the State Governments and Union Territories and other relevant authorities to stress the importance of safety and risk management, assist in identifying best practices and encourage closer cooperation for ensuring a pleasant experience to the tourists. The Guidelines are indicative references that may be useful to the States in sharing or adopting the best practices and design their domestic measures to better protect tourists. In addition to these guidelines "Tips to Travellers" are also offered to make the visit of tourists to Incredible India, a memorable experience.
One can only hope that post so many remedial measures more foreign tourists will visit Taj Mahal which is the best piece of Mughal Architecture again.