India rises to 39th place on World Economic Forum’s tourist destination index

India has ascended to 39th spot on the World Economic Forum Travel & Tourist Development Index 2024 as global tourist activities have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to an annual study released recently.

Ranked highest in South Asia and among lower-middle-income economies, India’s climb to the 39th position underscores its growing prominence in the global tourism landscape, despite the US topping the list. In the 2021 ranking, India held the 54th position; however, the index’s comparability to prior years was limited due to modifications made to its standards.

India’s impressive price competitiveness (18th), along with its competitive ground and port infrastructure (25th) and air transport infrastructure (26th), highlights its attractiveness to travellers, as revealed by the index, which was developed in partnership with the University of Surrey. The nation’s robust Natural (6th), Cultural (9th), and Non-Leisure (9th) Resources further enhance its appeal for travellers, positioning India as one of only three countries to rank in the top 10 across all resource pillars, according to the WEF.

India continues to score highly for the sustainability of travel and tourism demand, albeit slightly lower than in 2019, largely attributed to incoming tourists’ longer and more sustainable stays.

India’s travel and tourism sector has faced challenges from global inflationary supply-side trends, resulting in a decline in price competitiveness and a slower recovery of air travel and tourist services infrastructure to 2019 levels. As a consequence, India’s total TTDI (Travel and Tourism Development Index) score is 2.1 percent lower than in 2019.

The index, led by high-income economies in Asia-Pacific and Europe, forecasts a return to pre-pandemic levels for international tourist arrivals and the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to global GDP this year, driven by the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions and strong demand.

International visitor arrivals saw the fastest recovery in the Middle East (20 percent over 2019 levels), with recoveries of about 90 percent in 2023 for the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

Examining the travel and tourism industries of 119 countries using various criteria and regulations, the biennial index showcased US at number one, with the UK amongst the top 10.