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International Concerns: (World Tourism Highlights)

UN Report: World Tourism Highlights, 2019 edition.

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In News:

  • 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

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.

Regional findings:

  • 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.

About: e-Visa:

  • 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.

About: UNWTO

  • 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:
    1. generate market knowledge,
    2. promote competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments,
    3. foster tourism education and training,
    4. Work to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in over 100 countries around the world.

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