Speaking to a small group of journalists two months back, Indian Tourism Minister KJ Alphons said that, if the country wanted earnings from foreign tourists to jump from $27 billion currently to $100 billion in the next five years, it would need China's help.
Chinese tourists have not only become the largest group of travelers worldwide, but they're also increasingly spending more.
Last year 145 million Chinese traveled abroad, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. Chinese tourist also spent $258 billion in 2017, almost double what their American counterparts did in the same year, according to data from the World Tourism Organization or UNWTO.
So the fact that only 247,000 Chinese visited India in 2017 is now beginning to rattle Indian policymakers.
With a recorded history two millennia old, India hosts more than 70 percent of the Himalayas, has a 7,500 km (4,660 miles) coastline and is home to the iconic Taj Mahal, to name a few of its attractions, yet it's losing out to smaller countries with much less to offer when it comes to attracting the Chinese, Indian tourism officials said.
For example, 1.8 million Chinese tourists traveled to Indonesia in Southeast Asia, and even the United Arab Emirates has more than doubled arrivals from China over the past few years, Indian tourism ministry figures showed.
"Tourism with China has just not taken off. Getting what, around 200,000 Chinese every year is peanuts," Satyajeet Rajan, director general for tourism at India's Ministry of Tourism, told CNBC.