‘The China Story’ that never happened for India

France recently received over 66 million tourists making it one of the most visited destinations in the world. India, on the other hand, despite being six times larger in size and several times when it comes to headcount, managed a measly tenth of it in 2015. India’s inbound numbers point towards its inability to engage with upcoming markets. Several of successful international destinations have consistently tapped newer markets. South Korea’s ascent as a top market in the last decade is majorly linked to its success in attracting a large number of Chinese outbound.  South Korea aside, Chinese travellers have taken over many of our neighbouring Asian countries like Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand. Footfalls into India, on the contrary, have been traditionally dominated by USA, Bangladesh, UK, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Canada. A critical omission in India’s pursuit for more footfalls has been its inability to create new markets.  ‘The China story’ has never happened for India; it is yet to happen.

While on the bilateral front, investments into India have​ accelerate​d​ from both the​ Chinese government and private companies, its rub-off onto tourist arrivals ​has not occurred​. We probed deeper into the issue and spoke with a number of agents. Many believed that while the bonhomie and tourism would continue on the surface, many on the Indian side have been slow in creating the required infra for a comfortable Chinese stay.

Some argued that language created a barrier, and there were certain historical misgivings, too. Language, certainly, is not an excuse, given that they traverse European countries without a glitch. It is also difficult to digest ‘historical misgivings’ playing a part in low footfalls; Japan and China shared much worse relationship for far longer than India ever did with China. Japan is one of the most visited countries by the Chinese outbound in the last few years.

It is a difficult exercise to pin-point one single factor for India’s failure in tapping Chinese outbound. However, the cumulative understanding points possibly in the direction of a lack of joint effort on the part of governments at the centre and states​ as a key reason for the dismal show.

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