UN Report: World Tourism Highlights, 2019 edition.Approx Read Time: 4 minutes
- The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has released its World Tourism Highlights, 2019 edition. The report shows the big picture on international tourism trends in 2018.
- As per the report, use of e-visas and visas on arrival has steadily risen, and traditional visas are declining.
World Tourism Highlights, 2019:
- There were around 4 billion total international tourist arrivals at various destinations in 2018.
- Total international tourism exports market is around USD 1.7 trillion.
- The share of world population requiring a traditional visa declined from 75% in 1980 to 53% in 2018.
- It is a clear indication that more countries are simplifying processes to obtain visas, and granting easier access to travelers.
- Apart from the ease in access to visa norms, the UNWTO report also suggests digital technology is shaping traveler experiences, with artificial intelligence (AI) playing a key role in transforming tourism, from virtual assistants to companies offering hyper-personalised customer experiences.
- Europe accounted for half of the world’s tourist arrivals, representing almost 40% of international tourism receipts.
- Asia and the Pacific, recorded the highest growth in arrivals.
- Asia and the Pacific and Europe enjoyed above-average growth in tourism earnings. In Asia, the numbers were driven by South Asia, with double digit growth in Iran, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, the sub-region’s largest destination.
- Vietnam was among the regions that posted strong growth in south-east Asia, while outbound travel from China and India fuelled growth in this sub-region.
- Much smaller Asian countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, had an edge over India due to less cumbersome visa process.
India’s rise as a tourist destination:
- India appears to have kept pace with global trends, and has gone the extra mile to woo foreign travellers to the subcontinent.
- Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India in 2018 accounted for 1.2% of international tourist arrivals, with at least two-dozen countries having a higher share than India.
- The tripling of FTAs in India in the past 10 years, from 5.3 million to 17.4 million, indicates India is improving as a tourist destination. In this period, India’s international tourism receipts grew from $11.8 billion to $28.6 billion.
Boosted by e-visas:
- The greatest turning point in tourism for India, after Incredible India campaign, was electronic visas (e-visas).
- The process of making visa application simpler for foreigners began in 2010, when visa on arrival was launched for five countries. This was extended to more countries later.
- But the big leap came in 2014, when India unveiled e-visas for citizens of 43 countries entering through nine airports.
- The government has since further liberalised e-visas to include 166 countries and 28 airports.
- It has increased the duration of a tourist e-visa from 60 days with double entry to one year with multiple entries.
- The length of stay per visit has gone up from 60 days to 90.
- Around 4 million foreign tourists arrived in India on e-visas in 2018, compared with 4.5 million in 2015, according to the ministry of tourism.
- An electronic visa (e-Visa or eVisa) is stored in a computer and is linked to the passport number so no label, sticker or stamp is placed in the passport before travel.
- The application is done over the internet, and the receipt acts as a visa, which can be printed or stored on a mobile device
e-Visa in India:
- The electronic tourist visa has duration of one year from the date of the grant.
- It allows multiple entries and conditions stipulate that the continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days for countries except the US, UK, Canada and Japan.
- For the countries like US, UK, Canada and Japan, the period is extended to 180 days. e-visa fee reduction measures in the pipeline to futher boost tourism:
- A five-year electronic tourist visa may be introduced at a fee of $80, while there may be various relaxations in e-visa norms and a reduction in charges.
- The government is also considering a one-month e-visa for tourists at a fee of $25.
- It would be reduced to $10 during the off-season (April-June), initially for tourists from Japan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Russia, Ukraine, the UK and the US.
- The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
- As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.
- UNWTO is committed to promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), geared towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development worldwide.
- UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts.
- It takes Key initiatives to:
- generate market knowledge,
- promote competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments,
- foster tourism education and training,
- Work to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.