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Coronavirus scare: Foreign tourist arrivals growth hit record low in February

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, tourists' arrivals in February fell 9.2 per cent compared to 8.9 per cent in January 2020

twitter-logoNiti Kiran | March 30, 2020 | Updated 12:50 IST
Coronavirus scare: Foreign tourist arrivals growth hit record low in February
In February 2020, 1.01 million foreign tourists arrived in India compared to 1.08 million in February 2019

The devastating impact of coronavirus on tourism sector can be gauged with the foreign tourist arrivals data. In February 2020, 1.01 million foreign tourists arrived in India compared to 1.08 million in February 2019, registering a year-on-year (y-o-y) de-growth of -6.6 per cent. This was the sharpest decline since 2015 and also the first in the month of February. In January it grew 1.3 per cent on a y-o-y basis.

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, tourists' arrivals in February fell 9.2 per cent compared to 8.9 per cent in January 2020. Though the intensity of the fall is hard to ignore, but going by the m-o-m data since 2015 this may not be a very unusual trend. India normally observes a healthy flow (a double-digit growth) of foreign tourists during October, November and December, which starts coming down from January till May and again improves during monsoons.      

Foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) during the month were Rs 18,281 crore as compared to Rs 17,912 crore in February 2019, posting a scanty y-o-y growth of 2.1 per cent. This was after a double-digit y-o-y growth since September 2019. The growth rate in FEEs during January- February 2020 was 7.1 per cent over the corresponding period last year. FEEs in US$ terms in February was US$ 2.6 billion compared to US$ 2.5 billion during the month of February 2019.   

Bangladesh tops the charts for foreign tourist arrivals in the country with highest share of 21.4 per cent in 2018. This was followed by tourists from United States with a share of 13.3 per cent and United Kingdom with 9.75 per cent. The top ten source countries accounted for nearly 66 per cent of tourist's inflow including Australia (3.28 per cent) and China (2.67 per cent).

What started as an epidemic in China has now become a global pandemic. China reported its first COVID-19 case to the World Health Organisation on December 31, 2019 and since then the count has been rising. There have now been over 5.75 lakhs confirmed COVID-19 cases and 26,654 deaths globally.

Also read: Coronavirus in India Live updates: COVID-19 confirmed cases soar above 1,170; death toll past 30-mark

By end of January, China had 9,720 confirmed coronavirus cases and there were only 106 confirmed cases outside China from 19 countries. The percentage share of foreign tourist arrivals in India during January among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (18.68 per cent) followed by USA (15.34 per cent), UK (9.68 per cent). Canada had a share of 4.51 per cent, Australia (4.01 per cent), China (2.86 per cent) and France (2.54 per cent). As on February, the COVID-19 cases in China jumped to 79,394 with 6,009 confirmed cases outside China. This restricted the inflow of tourists from China too as the country disappeared from India's top 15 list in the February. The highest was again from Bangladesh with 21.19 per cent share followed by USA (12.68 per cent), UK (11.39 per cent) and Canada (4.46 per cent).

Total number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 979 claiming 25 lives. The government has imposed a 21-day lockdown in the whole country on March 25th. All international passenger flight operations will remain closed till April 14 in the wake of the three-week nationwide lockdown imposed in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. As per the report of 3rd Tourism Satellite Account for India prepared in 2018 for the reference year 2015-16(using new base year, 2011-12 figures of CSO) the contribution of tourism to GDP was estimated around 5.2 per cent in 2015/16. With a lockdown ahead in India and restricted movements of people across the globe, tourist arrivals will be badly hit in the month of March and April and so will the foreign exchange earnings. Now, with roughly a 5 per cent share one can imagine the loss to the economy.

Also read: BS-VI norms: Over 40 diesel cars, SUVs to leave showrooms in April

Also read: Coronavirus: PM Modi advises people to perform yoga during lockdown; shares video

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