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India to showcase rural tourism to foreign visitors

India plans to strengthen its rural tourism project so as to showcase the country's unique rural way of life to foreign visitors.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2008 12:20 IST
H S Rao

India plans to strengthen its rural tourism project so as to showcase the country's unique rural way of life to foreign visitors.

Describing the rural project as "responsible tourism", Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said: "This is a very innovative rural tourism project which positions India's rural way of life as a unique visitor experience."

"Now we are going into wellness, cruise, rural, adventure and faith tourism," Banerjee told PTI.

He also said that the current global financial downturn will not affect the burgeoning tourism industry in the country.

"We are absolutely hopeful that we'll be able to overcome the current economic downturn and have robust growth rate in tourism," he said.

The Secretary said the Tourism Ministry will strive to reduce hotel tariff and bring hospitality sector on par with infrastructure sector.

"We have requested the hoteliers to reduce the tariff by 10 to 15 per cent and urged the Reserve Bank of India to put the hospitality sector on par with the infrastructure sector rather than the real estate sector to bring down rate of interest for hospitality sector," Banerjee said.

He said the total requirement of rooms for tourists in India is estimated at 2.5 lakh whereas "we have only 90,000 rooms throughout the country."

On assaults on foreign tourists, Banerjee termed the incidents as "unfortunate" and said that all efforts would be made to provide safety and security to foreign tourists.

Banerjee said India earned a foreign exchange worth 10.83 billion dollars in 2007 - an increase of 24.3 per cent over the previous year - from 5 million tourist arrivals.

"While the world tourism registered a 6.6 per cent growth in 2007, India posted a 14.3 per cent growth," he said.

The Ministry is also developing important destinations and circuits through Mega Projects.

Six tourist sites - Agra, Varanasi, Gangtok, Bhubaneswar, Aurangabad and Hyderabad are being developed under the project.