India was third in terms of growth rate (7.2 per cent) during the year followed by Brazil (15.5 per cent) and Mexico (9.4 per cent).
Unfazed by President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies and visa restrictions, a record 1.4 million Indian tourists visited the United States in 2018, becoming one of the top groups of international visitors to America, according to a top US tourism official.
India was third in terms of growth rate (7.2 per cent) during the year followed by Brazil (15.5 per cent) and Mexico (9.4 per cent). “That’s great news, as it relates to our friends and visitors coming from India,” Christopher Thompson, CEO of Brand USA told PTI in an interview.
Brand USA is an organisation dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination. “I always talk about India being one of our strongest markets for visiting friends and relatives. I know there’s been a long history of a lot of the young students coming over for education, the families following them, and then we have a growing community of Indians in the United States,” he said, explaining the reason behind high visitation from India.
The United States has always been an aspirational destination for the people of India. The two countries have natural affinity, they have democratic system, and India US relationship is becoming stronger and deeper every passing year, he said.
Thompson said that the spending capacity of tourists from India is much more than those from other countries.
India (USD15.8 billion) is the fifth largest foreign exchange generator after China (USD36.4 billion), Canada (USD22.1 billion), Mexico (USD21.1 billion) and Japan (USD16 billion) in terms of spending by foreign tourists, he said.
After South Korea, India is the second-best performing market in terms of growth rate of spending by foreign tourists, Thompson said.
Referring to the US Department of Commerce statistics that Indian visitation is projected to grow an impressive 46 percent between now and 2023, he said, “When you look at that, that’s a year over year increase of probably somewhere around six percent on an average over the next five years.”
Thompson said he would encourage the Indian travellers to visit other places as well in he US other than traditional gateways. “I would encourage them to exercise their spirit of adventure and curiosity and allow us to use the storytelling platforms that we now have in place that are available to our Indian friends and visitors and challenge them to look at new and different opportunities and experiences that are available,” he said.
Tourism helps in promoting people to people relationship. The recent immigration policies and tough visa restrictions under the Trump Administration, he said, had no impact on foreign tourists.
“It’s a matter of fact, that all those forecasters who were saying that it could be a tremendous swamp or impact really never played out. That has been our job and our concern since this administration has made immigration and border security a priority. We do consumer sentiment in market and it’s really the difference between sentiment and behaviour,” he said.
“We say that travel has the amazing power to transcend politics,” he said.