This morning I came across an article about a cheaper visa scheme for Indian citizens visiting Malaysia. The article refers to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’ estimate of 50 million outbound Indian tourists by 2020. The number is impressive in itself, and so is the spending estimate of more than $28 Billion by these tourists.

Indian passport is not the most powerful when it comes to traveling. The hassles of applying for tourist visas are easily found on the internet 1 2 3 4 5. On a personal level, I have always disliked the process of applying for tourist visas. It is extremely inefficient, time consuming and expensive. You are required to plan your every movement, ahead of time, which is certainly not cost effective. One cannot take advantages of flight deals or travel impromptu to international destinations. For me, leisure travel is meant to be about new experiences, flexible plans and tentative itineraries. All the documentation for tourist visas makes it a chore and a buzz-kill. The number of hours spent on collecting all the documents for each visa quickly add up and makes you feel like you are preparing your masters thesis over and over again.

On my last travels to Europe, I did come across a lot of tourists from Asia, especially in Paris. Some of them were from South-Asia and a big majority were East Asians. We all have heard about the phenomenon of Chinese tourists. Visiting any famous tourist place in the world would most likely expose you to it. It is also understood that spending by Chinese tourists is high. ‘How high it actually is?’, one might ask. So, I was naturally curious to learn about it and compare it with the spending by Indian tourists. In particular, I was curious to see when might we see a phenomenon of Indian tourists.

It turns out the data on tourism is easy to find. A quick google search leads to the world bank. Here is the data for Indian tourists :

In the period between 1995 and 2014, the number of tourists outbound from India increased by a factor of 6 standing at ~18 million in 2014. The same factor is observed in the increase of spending as well.

A comparative data showing the number of outbound tourists and their spending, from various countries is shown below:

Numbers for India pale in comparison to the rest of the world. In this time period, China has seen its number of outbound tourists increase by a factor of ~22! India’s numbers might not be as impressive as that of China’s, however, if the predictions of 50 million outbound tourists by 2020 from India is to be true, it is still a very high number.

The hope is that in the coming decades, traveling with Indian passports will be easier. More number of countries could try to tap into the spending by Indian tourists and consider them an attractive economic opportunity to advertise to. In the process, more countries could ease their visa policies for Indian travelers, trying to lure them away to their lands, whether it is folkloric-Hamelin or hispter-Berlin or passe-Paris.