Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why do tourists continue to avoid India despite its world-class international airports?

From my FB posts today (this, this) + comments

India’s international airports are now more efficient than most others.

I’ve been in recent months to Singapore, London, Zurich, KL and two Indian international airports (Delhi and Cochin) and can vouch for their superior efficiency than others. And in cleanliness they are up there among the best.

This proves my point – that India can EASILY become top dog in the world if only we get right systems in place into the country. There is huge potential.

And I got 1 GB of data per day + unlimited phone calls for a month for Rs.500 ($10). NO ONE IN THE WORLD can beat that.

When things get good in India, they become the world’s best.

Rakesh Pujari’s comment:

Mumbai int’l airport easily outranks European ones like Madrid and Rome (speaking through personal experience). But this has become possible once these airports were privatised to a large extent (I think the airports run on public private partnership model). Indians need to be made aware of the benefits of getting govt out of their lives through examples like these which they can relate to in their daily lives.

Loknath Rao’s comment:

Because they are owned and operated by private firms. Else they used to sleep on the pavements waiting for their next flight to dubai. with lungis and banyans. Not so long ago

Rakesh Pujari’s response to Loknath:

Yes that’s 100% right. Before privatisation, int’l tourists’ first experience of India was a horde of greasy haired, paan chewing malnourished (or in some cases pot bellied) taxi drivers pestering them to take their ride.


Despite good airports, India attracts less than half the number of tourists that visit Singapore. Plus, at least 80 per cent of Indian “foreign” tourists are former Indians (OCIs, etc.) like me – visiting family or on India-related work.

If you count only non-Indian tourists, India probably gets less than 1/10th the number of tourists that visit Singapore.

The problem is that while its airports have improved dramatically, India has NOT changed – and is as noisy, dirty/smelly and disorganised/ dysfunctional as it has ever been. Once foreign tourists land in India, they probably send enough bad stories to their friends to put off another 10 people from visiting India.

One thing you can never get in India as a tourist: a sense of calm enjoyment. Your day is guaranteed to be rough and shaky. Stress in all its forms is an essential part of living in India.

Debraj Mookerjee’s comment

Bangkok alone receives more tourists than India does as a whole … Beat that!

Rakesh Pujari’s comment:

I feel that Singapore being a major tourist hub has a lot to do with the reputation of Singapore airlines as the world’s best, which drives more people to fly them to various destinations thereby adding Singapore as a stopover destination in their itinerary (same case with Dubai – Emirates). I feel that if they fixed up Air India (ie privatised it like they should have a long time ago with someone who really understands the aviation business), India can easily add at least 2x the number of non-Indian/non-OCI foreign tourists to the country.

Gary Buxora’s comment

Specially women avoid being raped.

My response to Gary:

That, too. There is no doubt that it is virtually impossible for foreign women to visit India in peace. They are constantly ogled at and even “handled” on some pretext or other. Not fun for them.

I set up this page for this purpose:


Rakesh Pujari’s comment:

there are numerous options for 5 star “peaceful” spa and resort options for those willing to spend a bit of cash. And like its airports, I can vouch from personal experience that the 5 star experience provided in India outranks those provided by comparable establishments in many parts of the world (DEFINITELY Australia)


India is suitable only for those who have LOTS of money to burn. That’s less than 1 per cent of the Western population.

99 per cent of Western tourists have a tight budget (like people like me). The only reason I can afford to come to India is that I often stay with relatives and friends. Without that subsidy, it would be out of my reach, since the accommodation quality I need would be totally unaffordable. (India’s rates for accommodation and travel are close to the world’s highest: you get junk quality at high prices).

Alternatively, backpackers can afford to come to India since they can live in rubbish places.

For 99 per cent of the Western tourists, the best value for money is found in places like Bali and even Cambodia. These are middle class people who expect decent accommodation and travel, + quiet and peaceful surrounds – and good wholesome food that doesn’t turn their stomach upside down.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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2 thoughts on “Why do tourists continue to avoid India despite its world-class international airports?
  1. R. Oellinger

    Tourists stay away NOT because of the airports rather due to the filth outside the airports and in the cities!!

  2. R. Guptara

    President Xi Jinping, now a bathroom aficionado after frequent visits to inspect the facilities in rural homes, has announced he’s doubling down on a campaign for a Chinese “toilet revolution” that he launched in 2015. Toilet issues are crucial to tourism Some 68,000 toilets have been built in tourist sites around China since the launch of the “toilet revolution” in 2015. But we aren’t sure if this glass-walled public toilet in Shiyan Lake scenic area, Changsha, is very practical. It says China has opened about 68,000 improved bathrooms in tourist areas around the country since Xi began his campaign.