India is finally waking up to the fact that their country is lagging far behind the competition for Chinese tourism, which is no less than a huge missed opportunity for their nascent tourism industry. While China’s other neighboring countries have seen their tourism industries explode due to the growing Chinese tourism market, India has performed worse than even some of the most far-flung and expensive destinations in the region.
But that may be about to change, at least if India’s tourism minister KJ Alphonse gets his way. At an event in Beijing, Alphonse suggested that India should make a targeted push to gain “at least 10 percent” of the 144 million Chinese tourism market by 2023. That would mean 14.4 million tourists, or around 50 percent more visitors than Chinese tourists’ favorite international destination, Thailand, attracted all of last year.
To put things into perspective, India attracted 240,000 Chinese visits in 2017, and that’s without an upward trend (in 2016, the country received some 251,000 Chinese travelers). Bringing that figure to 14.4 million by 2023 would mean a 6,000 percent increase, an unprecedented explosion in Chinese travel to a specific destination.
And while India’s tourism goals in regards to the Chinese market might be outside the realm of possibility, it’s clear that the country’s tourism minister is earnest about wanting a bigger slice of the Chinese tourism pie.
On Tuesday this week, India’s Tourism Ministry hosted an event in Beijing that brought tour operators from both India and China together to explore potential business opportunities. According to a report in CGTN, the ministry intends to hold similar events in Shanghai, Wuhan, and Guangzhou as well.
While that is far from enough activity to boost India’s tourism from China by a staggering 6,000 percent over a five-year span, it’s undoubtedly a good first step now that India is beginning to realize the enormous potential within the Chinese tourism market.
Alphonse also addressed one of the most limiting factors to Sino-Indian travel—air connectivity—by saying that he would “initiate a dialogue with the aviation minister to increase flight connectivity” between the two countries.