Bangladeshi tourists outnumbered tourists from European countries
One in every five tourists to India is from Bangladesh, with most tourists traveling to the country because of holiday and recreation purposes.
In the year 2017, India received 10.04 million foreign tourists for the first time, where Bangladesh accounted for 21% arrivals with 2.16 million tourists, according to India Tourism Statistics 2018 published by the Ministry of Tourism of the Indian government.
The amount of tourists flocked to India from Bangladesh is even higher than the number of total tourists who arrived in India from all Western European countries.
The other top sourcing countries in India in 2017 include United States of America (13.72%), United Kingdom (9.83%), Canada (3.34%), Australia (3.23%), Malaysia (3.21%), Sri Lanka (3.03%), Russian Federation (2.78%), Germany (2.68%) and France (2.49%).
An insights into Bangladeshi tourists to India
A decade after independence, Bangladeshi tourists numbered merely 192,509 in 1981. Although the number of visitors was around 500,000 each year from 2001 to 2012, it showed an upward trend from 2013.
Most Bangladeshis flock to India mainly because of holiday and recreation purposes, accounting for 83.7% visitors in 2017, followed by 10.28% for medical purposes, 4.66% for business and professional purposes, 0.67% for Indian diaspora and the rest 0.66% for other reasons.
On average, Bangladeshi tourists stay for 14.5 days in India. Among Bangladeshi tourists, 70.5% are male and 29.5% are female. A majority of visitors - 25.6% - are in the 35-44 year age group.
An astounding 85.6% of visitors take land routes, with over half of all Bangladeshi tourists - 54.3% - disembark at Haridaspur. Air travel remains the preferred mode of transport among only 14.4% of all visitors.
The Indian High Commission in Dhaka says the travellers from Bangladesh previously confined their visit to West Bengal, the golden triangle i.e. Delhi-Agra-Jaipur and pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif, however now there has been a perceptible change and people of Bangladesh are venturing to various parts of India.
Travellers from Bangladesh are now also going to the Indian northeast, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jammu and Kashmir, and to South India where Bangalore and Mysore are rapidly becoming favourite destinations, it adds.
The Indian government last year lifted restrictions for Bangladeshis from visiting Sikkim and Ladakh. Both countries are also planning to launch cruise ships for tourists soon.
Currently, the largest ever Indian visa centre in the world is in Bangladesh, and equipped to issue an average of 5,000 visas every day.
Two passenger trains - Maitree Express and Bandhan Express - run between the two countries. Maitree Express runs four days a week between Kolkata and Dhaka. Bandhan Express runs once a week between Khulna and Kolkata.
There are direct bus services on the Dhaka-Kolkata, Dhaka-Agartala, Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala, and Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati routes.
Major cities in India and Bangladesh are connected by air through several non-stop flights operated by both state-owned carriers and private carriers.