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Models from various nations visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, on March 18, 2016 (representational image).IANS

Monthly statistics on foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) for January 2017 published by the Narendra Modi government had a surprise: It did not have details of foreign exchange earnings (FEEs), or amount spent by foreigners, during the month. The country saw 9.83 lakh FTAs in January 2017, an increase of 16.5 percent over January 2016, but marked a decrease from 10.37 lakh FTAs in December 2016.

"Following a modified approach, Ministry of Tourism from the month of January 2017, shall be presenting monthly Foreign Tourist Inflows to India as well as the Foreign Tourists who availed e-Visa facility, simultaneously," a Tourism Ministry update said on Friday.

Read: Demonetisation did not affect foreign tourist arrivals in December

The top source destinations (countries from where the foreign tourists arrive to India) were the United States (15.01 percent), Bangladesh (14.91 percent), the United Kingdom (11.11 percent) and Canada (4.63 percent).

In December 2016, India earned $2.47 billion in FEEs and the cumulative earnings for calendar year 2016 was $23.14 billion.

E-visas for tourists

Foreign tourists arriving on e-visas rose 72 percent to 1.52 lakh in January 2017 in comparison to 88,000 in January 2016. In December 2016, such arrivals stood at 1,62,250 tourists. The concept of e-visa for foreign tourists was started in November 2014 for citizens of 77 countries and now stands at 161 countries (as of January 31, 2017).

Touchpoints for foreign tourists

Delhi airport saw the maximum arrivals at 28.3 percent, followed by Mumbai airport (18.2 percent), Haridaspur Land checkpost (8.1 percent), Chennai airport (7.3 percent) and Goa airport (6.5 percent).

Popular tourist destinations visited by foreigners in India include the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, Qutub Minar and Red Fort in Delhi, Amer Fort and Jaisalmer forts in Rajasthan, backwaters of Kerala, Goa beaches and temples in south India.

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    Camels rest on sand dunes over the Thar Desert at Sam village on the outskirts of Jaisalmer in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan August 17, 2010.Reuters file
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    Tourists walk on a footway of the step well of Nahargarh fort in Jaipur, capital of India's desert state of Rajasthan January 23, 2012 (representational image).Reuters file
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    Tourist enjoy at the Taj Mahal after a brief spell of rain in Agra; on July 16, 2016.IANS
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    A French tourist walks past Buddhist religious flags at Namgyal Tsemo Gompa monastery in Leh, capital of Ladakh July 8, 2011.Reuters file