Indian tourists travelling to Britain make a significant contribution to its economy. In 2015, about 4,22,000 visitors from India to the country spent more than £433 million, it was informed on the occasion of the two countries signing an agreement to increase flight services on a reciprocal basis to enhance trade and tourism.
Currently, there are about 88 scheduled services per week in each direction between the two countries and this is bound to go up after the agreement. Some of the carriers of the two countries flying passengers both ways include Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Jet Airways and Air India.
"The increase in number of flights between the UK and India is encouraging news for our businesses and tourists. We already enjoy strong ties with the UK and we welcome such continued association which in the long run will not only encourage business activity, but also people-to-people contact," Ashok Gajapathi Raju, India's civil aviation minister said, after signing the agreement at the 2017 CAPA India Aviation Summit on Thursday.
The deal was signed between him and UK aviation minister Lord Ahmad who was in India for the summit. "India is one of our closest allies and key trading partners and this new agreement will only serve to strengthen this crucial relationship. We are unlocking new trade and tourism opportunities which will boost our economies, create new jobs and open up new business links," he was quoted as saying by the Indian government in a statement.
India-UK bilateral merchandise trade was $14 billion in 2015-16, down from $14.33 billion in the previous financial year. The UK was the third-largest investor in India, after Mauritius, and Singapore with a cumulative equity investment of $23.10 billion (April 2000- March 2016), according to a government of India update.
India was the third-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the UK in 2014-15, the update added, citing UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) "2014/15 Inward Investment Annual Report."