The economic slowdown in the US and Europe coupled with adverse travel advisories hit the tourism sector in 2011 as the country saw less footfalls even during the festive season.
In mid-October, travellers from the US, the UK, New Zealand, Canada and Australia were advised by their governments to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to India, citing terror threats. No country has softened the tone of these advisories, despite a strong response by the Ministry of External Affairs.
It has affected the festive season with only 4.7 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals in November as against 12.3 per cent growth for the same period last year.
Till November, Incredible India campaign attracted 55.75 lakh foreign tourists including 11,121 visitors availing the visa on arrival facility.
Nevertheless, the Tourism Ministry unveiled an ambitious target of attracting about 11 million foreign tourists and creating 24.9 million jobs in the next five years.
The ministry has sought Rs 23,000 crore from Planning Commission in the 12th Five-Year Plan to develop tourism infrastructure and achieve 10 to 12 per cent growth in the sector.
The year began with Subodh Kant Sahai taking over the ministry with new zeal and promise. He made a presentation on socio-economic relevance of tourism and strategies to address challenges in the sector to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
This was followed by Singh constituting a high-level committee with members from different ministries including Civil Aviation, Urban Development, External Affairs, Road Transport and Highways to expedite tourism related projects.