Economic Survey 2020-21 said that the tourism sector in India had seen a sharp fall in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The survey, drafted by Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian and his team, said that the sector had undergone a slowdown in 2018 and 2019 before declining sharply in 2020.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a debilitating impact on world travel and tourism, including India. As per the World Tourism Barometer of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international arrivals fell by 72 percent globally over the first ten months of 2020, with restrictions on travel, low consumer confidence and a global struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus, all contributing to the worst year on record in the history of tourism," the survey said.
To contain the spread of the virus, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended all commercial international flights in March 2020.
But, to evacuate Indians stranded abroad after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdowns across the world, India launched Vande Bharat Mission in early May 2020, pointed out the survey.
"Under this Mission, which is currently in its ninth phase, the government established transport bubbles with countries to repatriate its citizens. At present, India has active air bubbles with 24 countries," the survey added.
It added that over 4.49 million people as of January 5, 2021 were facilitated international travel through different air ever since the Vande Bharat Mission was launched.
Talking about the tourism sector's performance over the years, the survey said that it had been performing well with Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) growing at 14 percent to 10.04 million and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) at 19.1 percent to USD 27.31 billion in 2017.
However, the growth rate of FTAs declined from 14 percent in 2017 to 5.2 percent in 2018 and further to 3.5 percent in 2019.
When it comes to Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism, the FEEs declined from 19.1 percent in 2017 to 4.7 percent in 2018, picking up slightly to 5.1 percent in 2019.
According to the survey, the tourism sector which contributed five percent share to India’s total GDP in 2018-19 and which also supports almost 13 percent of total employment in India, will witness revival with the ongoing vaccination drive.