India’s foreign exchange earnings through tourism declined in the first half of this year with a muted growth in the number of India-bound tourists, compared to the year-ago period. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism stood at $16.757 billion between January and July 2019, as against $17.059 billion in the corresponding period last year, posting a -1.8% growth vis-à-vis a 12.1% surge last year, according to data from the ministry. The decline in growth in forex earnings from tourism was the sharpest this year between January and March at -9.9%. Foreign tourist arrivals during the period were 60,84,353 as compared to 59,57,816 in the previous corresponding period — a marginal growth of 2.1%. Travel service operators pointed to a combination of factors like fears of a global recession after the US-China trade war, the Pulwama attack in February and the subsequent tension between India and Pakistan, and a decline in the quality of tourists. “There is a saying that if the US sneezes, you get a cold. But if both the US and China sneeze, then there’s an epidemic. The trade tensions between the two will have its spill-over effects. There are fears of a global recession and people will think of shorter visits,” said Subhash Goyal, a member of the national tourism advisory council.