The revival in the global economy witnessed since the early 2009, could well be deceptive if one goes by the demand for passports which has fallen drastically, at least in the populated country like India – though this cannot serve as a sole indicator of global economic health. But, one can say that the recession has slowed foreign travel dramatically.
India in 2009 saw a drop in the demand for passport for the first time in the last 5 years. The data from the ministry of external affairs indicates that the demand for passport climbed down throughout the years of financial crisis when the global economy contracted.
This drop in the demand for passports could be on account of several reasons including that of Indians opting to delay holidaying at expensive foreign tourist destinations, during the tough recessionary conditions and, in the process, accumulating the savings for the rainy days. It could also imply that Indian job-seekers, who aspired to work for large MNCs, realized the dwindling growth prospects involved in working with over-leveraged and financially weak foreign companies.
The global recession since the late 2007 has led to deterioration in the economic health of the major advanced economies such as the US and the Europe – which are said to be the major destination markets for the low-cost outsourcing services offered by Indian off shoring and BPO companies.
Another crucial aspect that could have hit the number of passport issuances is that of the increasingly cumbersome passport renewal process. Frankly, I haven’t gone through the process personally, but hearing it from my friend – it was a bad feeling. Speaking about a very recent incident, my colleague said he had to spend his valuable 6 hours in the passport office just to get it renewed.
The process which is implemented through various counters includes biometric data collection as well as other verification methodologies. In spite, of issuing online tokens the process takes much longer than the usual time.
Further, the report says that the traditionally migrant people of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh had also witnessed a significant drop in terms of passports handed out. Even the face-saver software industry involved in outsourcing services didn’t witness a boom in terms of too many graduates being recruited to serve their foreign clients.
Can we expect the demand from hot-spots Tier-II and III cities to pick in 2010?