Even as the first coronavirus case was detected in India in January, India banned the international and domestic commercial passenger flights only in the latter half of the March. With the nationwide lockdown that started on March 24, the country witnessed a whopping 65 per cent fall in foreign tourists arrival in March, both in yearly and monthly term. A total of 3.3 lakh foreign tourists arrived in India in the said month, hitting an 11-year low.
A month earlier, in February, arrivals registered a year-on-year de-growth of 6.6 per cent and month-on-month decline of 9.2 per cent. From January to March, there were inflows of 24,62,244 tourists compared to 31,79,792 during the same period last year, recording a decline of 22.6 per cent.
India has seen a two-stage lockdown since March 24 and passenger train services and international and domestic commercial passenger flights have been suspended since then.
Going by the latest data depicting preferred mode of travel, a majority of foreign tourists, close to 80 per cent arrived by air in India in 2018, followed by land (19.6 per cent) and sea (0.8 per cent). Arrivals through land routes comprised tourists mainly from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, more than a fourth of tourists belonged to Bangladesh with a highest share of 26.1 per cent during March 2020, followed by UK (10.6 per cent). Tourists from the USA and Russia together had a share of 15 per cent.
Though data on purpose of arrivals is not shared in the monthly brief write-ups on tourist inflows released by the ministry of tourism, in 2018, the ministry started to derive purpose of arrivals by clubbing various visa type categories in which foreign tourists travel to India. As per the analysis, 62.4 per cent of foreign tourists arrived for the purpose of "leisure, holiday & recreation" followed by business and professional (16.3 per cent), Indian diaspora (13.5 per cent), medical (6.1 per cent) and other purposes (1.7 per cent).
Bangladesh, which recorded a total of 49 coronavirus cases and five deaths as on March 31, had announced a nationwide lockdown on March 26 to curb the spread of the deadly viral infection. India tourism statistics for 2019 revealed that the most preferred mode of travel for nationals from Bangladesh in 2018 was land (82.9 per cent), of which road accounted for 68.3 per cent and rail 14.6 per cent followed by air route (17 per cent). Out of total arrivals from Bangladesh, 83.7 per cent were for the purpose of leisure holiday and recreation followed by medical (14.4 per cent) and business and professional (4.9 per cent).