NEW YORK – The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office has reported that there has been a 12.9 percent drop in the number of Indians travelling to the United States from January to June with a significant drop of 18.3 percent during the months of April, May and June.
According to a PTI report, experts are attributing the dip to important policy changes, especially with the ones in India.
“We’ve seen some softness in visitation (from India to US) in 2017, in first part of the year. We expect that to be just a short-term phenomenon,” Brand USA’s president and CEO Chris Thompson told PTI in an interview.
Thompson said that the significant policy changes made by India in the last one year might have impacted the numbers.
“There are so many things that influence the intent or ability for people to travel. The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also something that affects people’s ability or intent to travel,” Thompson added, thought he couldn’t pinpoint the actual reason behind the decrease.
Thompson also told the PTI that the impact of the general anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. has been “negligible” in India.
“Brand USA carried out sentiment research in its top 11 markets, which includes India. President Donald Trump is being seen as friendly by our Indian friends and visitors. The only issue that we’ve had probably may have contributed to some of the softness is there was more demand for visas than we had the ability to process,” he said.
In 2016, there were 1.17 million travelers from India who visited the U.S. and contributed $13.6 million toward the economy, which was a 14 per cent increase over the previous year and according to the latest projections by the Department of Commerce, the U.S. expects an additional 814,000 visitors from India by 2021 as compared to 2016.
“That will be a 72 percent increase over 2016 number,” Thompson added saying that he is “very optimistic and very bullish” that Indians will continue to visit the United States in the coming years and more direct flights between the two countries would help in this increase as will the increasing cooperation between the two countries on travel and tourism.