Govt confused over foreign tourist arrivals

There is some confusion in the government regarding the number of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs).

According to a press release issued on Thursday, “During 2015, the number of foreign tourist visits (FTVs) to the States/UTs was 23.3 million as compared to 22.3 million in 2014, registering a growth of 4.4 per cent over 2014.” But this does not add up, given the real state of tourism in our country and the government’s own figures which it releases regularly.

A press release dated January 8 this year said, “FTAs during the period January- December 2015 were 80.16 lakh with a growth of 4.4 per cent, as compared to the FTAs of 76.79 lakh with a growth of 10.2 per cent in January-December 2014 over January-December 2013.”

How did 80.16 lakh, or a little more than 8 million, become 23.3 million, almost a three-time increase? Is it a case of the government exaggerating its achievements? Or is there a catch in the two terms used—foreign tourist arrivals and foreign tourist visits? Or is every tourist visit to a state or Union Territory is counted separately and then added up? If that is so, a person arriving at the international airport in New Delhi and opting for the ‘golden triangle’ circuit of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra will have visited the three states of Delhi, Rajasthan, and UP.

There was no clarity by the time of writing these lines.