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Card use by tourists rising, finds Visa study

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Mr Santanu Mukherjee, Country Manger, South Asia, Visa Inernational, addressing a press conference in the Capital on Tuesday. - - Kamal Narang

New Delhi , April 5

INTERNATIONAL travellers to India are increasingly turning towards plastic. According to a study, international Visa cardholders spent Rs 4,100 crore in India in 2004, a 42-per cent increase from the previous year's Rs 2,890 crore.

The research on `Recent trends in spending by visitors to India' indicates that in the last two years international inbound tourism saw the best performance. Tourist arrivals increased by 23.5 per cent in 2004, from 2.7 million in 2003 to 3.4 million. Mr Santanu Mukherjee, Country Manager - South Asia, Visa International, said, "Electronic payment is becoming an important channel for delivering tourism revenues and holds significant potential value in stimulating tourist spending for India."

Some of the key findings are that visitors from the US and the UK are the top spenders. Cardholders from the US spent about Rs 1,280 crore in 2004 while those from the UK spent Rs 870 crore. Tourists from France, Australia and the UAE were also among the top card spenders.

The categories that attracted the highest spends are accommodation with Rs 1,010 crore, retail stores (Rs 960 crore), clothing, household goods and mail and phone order.

"With greater merchant acceptance even in tier II towns and cities, and a larger network of ATMs, tourists find it easier to purchase goods and services without the hassle of converting foreign exchange," Mr Mukherjee.

Another interesting trend indicated by the Visa study is that medical tourism is growing in a big way. International visitors spent Rs 53.1 crore in medical services last year. "Although the absolute spend volume remains low compared to other types of purchases and services, it has experienced a 500 per cent increase from 1999," it said.

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