How most international visitors to India are welcomed in Haridaspur, following Delhi and Mumbai

Haridaspur, a seemingly unremarkable location in West Bengal, has gained significant importance as a major entry point for foreign visitors to India. After Delhi and Mumbai, Haridaspur ranks third in terms of foreign arrivals, surpassing even well-known cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. Here's why:

### Strategic Importance of Haridaspur

#### Key Entry Point
- **Land Port for Bangladesh:** Haridaspur serves as a crucial land port for people traveling legally from Bangladesh. It is connected to the Petrapole post, where immigration procedures are handled. Right across the border lies Benapole, its twin city in Bangladesh.
- **High Volume of Visitors:** Over 23 lakh people used the Haridaspur land port in 2023-24 for crossing the Petrapole-Benapole border. On average, around 22 lakh people have been using this route annually since it became operational in February 2016.

### Reasons for High Traffic

#### Medical Tourism
- **Significant Proportion of Patients:** A substantial number of visitors from Bangladesh come to India for medical treatment. Bangladeshi patients make up 17% of the total OPD footfall at private hospitals in Kolkata. Additionally, they constitute 12% of the overall patients admitted to these hospitals.
- **Hospitals Catering to Bangladeshi Patients:** Hospitals like AMRI and Ruby General in Kolkata have dedicated helpdesks for Bangladeshi patients and receive thousands of them every month.

#### Cultural and Religious Tourism
- **Common Language and Culture:** The shared language and cultural heritage between West Bengal and Bangladesh make it an attractive destination for Bangladeshi tourists. They often visit for religious purposes and leisure, feeling at home due to the commonalities.
### Statistical Insights
- **Tourist Arrival Data:** In the first four months of 2024, 33% of foreign tourists entered India through Delhi and 15% through Mumbai. Haridaspur accounted for 9% of all foreign entries during this period and 11% in April alone.
- **Bangladeshi Tourists:** Bangladeshis form the largest group of foreign nationals visiting India, making up 22% of all foreign visitors in the first four months of 2024 and 26% in April.

### Economic and Trade Impact
- **Cross-Border Trade:** Haridaspur's Petrapole land port handles 30% of all cross-border land trade, highlighting its significance in the economic exchange between India and Bangladesh.

### Conclusion

Haridaspur's importance as an entry point for foreigners is driven by its strategic location as a land port for travelers from Bangladesh, particularly those seeking medical treatment in Kolkata's hospitals. The shared cultural ties and the role of Haridaspur in facilitating significant cross-border trade further contribute to its prominence. Despite being relatively unknown to many Indians, Haridaspur plays a vital role in the movement of people and goods between India and Bangladesh.

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