It is the city of monuments and the tourist gateway to India, but the number of travellers visiting Delhi for a vacation is still dismal.
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is the country’s busiest and handles more than one lakh passengers every day.
Though one can rejoice the fact that the total number of passengers at IGIA has increased by six million in the last fiscal year, the truth is that the increase is mostly in the number of people visiting Delhi for business purposes.
According to a study conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research on the economic impact of the Delhi Airport, nearly 40% passengers come to Delhi on business trips and conferences. This is followed by those visiting their relatives or friends (20.2%) and then by those who actually come here for a vacation (18.7%).
Those who visit the Capital for educational, medical or other purposes form a much smaller share. The survey includes both international and domestic passengers.
“Though those visiting family and friends also make a vacation out of the visit, the number of ‘real tourists’ is minuscule,” said Ankur Bhatia, executive director of the Bird Group, a travel technology and services company.
“The number of western tourists who come to the country on a leisure trip is not even between one and two million per annum. Though the numbers are minuscule, the figures would have been much less a decade ago,” he said.
“The good thing is that the number of real tourists is growing and those who visit the country now are mostly those who spend a lot of money,” he said.
Kapil Kaul of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation felt that the figure of nearly 40% corporate travellers was understated. “The percentage of people visiting Delhi for dealings with the government or private sector should be around 50%,” he said.
Kaul also said that though the number of tourists visiting Delhi was less than corporate travellers, the majority of international travellers first visited the Capital and then headed out to other states.