Issam Kazim, the CEO of Dubai Tourism, has a lot riding on Indian travellers. The world’s largest democracy sent the maximum number of visitors to the Emirate for the second consecutive year in 2016 and accounted for more than one-fifth of the growth in tourist arrivals in Dubai.
Dubai is the largest overseas travel destination for Indians. In 2016, a total of 1.8 million Indians visited Dubai either for business or leisure. In fact, twelve out of every hundred overseas visitors that Dubai had last year was an Indian. Further, the number of Indians who visited Dubai surged by 12 per cent last year, on a high base of 1.6 million in 2015.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his last Budget speech that about 20 million Indians travelled overseas for business or leisure in 2015 to substantiate his argument that we are a tax non-compliant society. The numbers for 2016 is not known but trends show that there must have been a double-digit jump.
Kazim said that on an average, every Indian spends more than three nights in Dubai and visitors include those opting for high-end luxurious hotels to three-star accommodations. People splurge on restaurants and shopping. He said that one out of every five visitors to Dubai comes for business as trade ties continue to grow between India and UAE.
Well, Dubai is not the only country benefiting from the rising number of Indian overseas travellers. In 2016, Singapore reported an eight per cent surge in travellers from India, which also overtook Australia to become the fourth largest source market for arrivals. A total of 1.09 million Indians visited Singapore in 2016 and constituted close to seven per cent of total international visitors. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, growth from India is helped by rising numbers in tier I and II cities.
More countries welcome over a million Indians every year. Thailand, a popular budget tourist destination celebrated the arrival of a million Indian tourists (1.06 million) in 2015 and attracted 12 per cent more Indian visitors in 2016. A total of 1.19 million Indians visited Thailand last year.
Other countries are keen to grow the number of visitors from India to a million. Malaysia, which received 0.72 million visitors from India in 2015, hopes to welcome as many as a million visitors. “This year, we hope to achieve high targets from India, as much as one million arrivals,” Malaysian tourism and culture minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said at the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange in New Delhi early this week.A number of other destinations are seeing a double-digit growth in Indian visitors, though on a smaller base. These include destinations like Australia, South Africa and Kenya among others.