Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja on Thursday said that around 75,000 foreign visitors were in India during the Commonwealth Games that ended Oct 14.
"Initial estimates said 100,000 visitors - both domestic and foreign - were expected in Delhi during the Games," Selja said on the sidelines of the International Hospitality Fair 2010 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.
"But the figures I received from the government cited 75,000 foreign arrivals, excluding the domestic tourists. One should not feel disappointed. The negative publicity had initially affected tourism prospects," Selja said.
The minister gave a thumbs up to the ITDC, saying the “Indian Tourism Development Corporation had been able to discharge its duties despite racing against time.”
“They managed very well in the end though I think the arrangements should have been made a few months earlier,” she said.
"The ITDC was only in charge of furnishings at the Games Village", she said.
The Commonwealth Games prompted the construction of new airport terminals, highways and new infrastructure both in Delhi and the national capital region. The “fast-growing tourism sector, which is growing along with the economy, needs to utilise the infrastructure”.
“The vast tourism potential in the country is still not tapped,” she said.
“The Commonwealth Games was an opportunity to develop the tourism and hospitality infrastructure of the country. We should not question whether the visitors got the best in 14 days,” she said.
“The impact of newly-built infrastructure for an event is always felt post-event. Occupancy rates in hotels are high to prove that more people are attracted to India,” Selja said.
She also said the tourism ministry wanted to develop the mid-segment of the hospitality sector.
"The country has adequate five-star properties and dhabas. We will assist the budget hotels, three- and four-star hotels and the business hotels and related hospitality industry to build the segment," Selja said.
Tourism promotion is a sustained campaign, she said.
“We are trying to promote India as a 365-day destination. We have so much to offer - lot more variety compared many destinations. The travellers' profile is also changing. The country is drawing not just leisure travellers, but business travellers as well as the economy grows,” she said.