The number of Bangladeshis visiting India has topped for the first time, overtaking the United States, in 2016, reports New Delhi-based Business Standard.
The US, the traditional top source for arrivals in India, has lost the spot it held for years to Bangladesh, it said.
Data from the India’s tourism ministry showed 13.7 lakh Bangladeshis visited India in 2016, up by 21 per cent over the number in 2015.
The number of visitors from the US was 13.1 lakh in 2016, with an increase of 8.2 per cent year-on-year.
The growth of visitors from the UK, the third-largest source market for foreign tourists in India, was 10.4 per cent in 2016.
The rise of Bangladesh in the Indian travel market has been quite rapid.
From a mere 4.8 lakh visitors in 2012, the number has now grown almost threefold.
Bangladesh now accounts for 15.47 per cent of the total 8.89 million foreign tourists who visited India in 2016. The US and the UK accounted for 14.74 and 9.51 per cent respectively.
The report noted that ‘quality medical and healthcare facilities’ in India is one of the reasons for the growing number of tourists from Bangladesh. Trade and business are another factor, it said.
The Indian government data show that of the 1,34,344 medical visas issued by India in 2015, half went to citizens from Bangladesh.
The number of medical visas increased to almost 97,000 in only six months of 2016.
According to an earlier report by KPMG, the highest number of medical tourists in India come from Bangladesh (more than a fifth) because of the ‘lack quality healthcare infrastructure and unavailability of skilled manpower’ in the neighbouring country.
Foreign tourists (all nationalities) are estimated to have brought foreign exchange earnings of $23 billion in 2016, 9.8 per cent higher than in 2015.
India dominates bilateral trade of $6.76 billion with Bangladesh, but imports from Bangladesh are rising. Even though bilateral trade slipped more than four per cent to $6.76 billion in 2015-16, imports from Bangladesh to India grew by 17 per cent to $727 million.
Apparel, textile fibre, fruit and fish are top import items from Bangladesh.
A large number of visitors from Bangladesh come to India by bus that connects Dhaka to Kolkata. Therefore, Haridaspur, a check-post in West Bengal, ranked third or fourth among top ports of entry into India for most months in 2016.
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