India on Thursday made a strong pitch to woo tourists from Canada, with Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) delegates luring visitors with presentations on the country's exotic sites.
"India offers a myriad experiences, it is a holistic destination and it is an enlightened holiday for any foreign visitors," Banerjee told Canadian travel and tour operators as part of PATA India's road show in North America.
The road show is aimed at selling India as an exotic place to North Americans to further raise foreign tourist traffic from 5.1 million last year.
Currently only about 400,000 visitors travel between India and Canada each year, with the Canadians, mostly NRIs, accounting for 80 per cent of the tourist traffic between the two countries.
Inviting Canadians to have a " taste of India", Banerjee said India is "a journey of mind and soul and the five senses".
India stood out for its unique tourist destinations such as the Himalayas "which can be seen from the north-east to Sikkim to Hiamchal to Jammu and Kashmir, the ancient temple of Mahabalipuram, tea gardens and its rich wildlife," he said.
Stressing that the country is fast emerging as a favourite destination for heritage tourism, Banerjee said, "India is a 5,000-year-old civilization and the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and 27 of its sites are now UNESCO's heritage list. So come and see those."
Wellness and adventure tourism are also booming. He said,"India is promoting wellness tourism in a big way. Our wellness industry is a combination of ayurveda,yoga, siddha and unani systems and we have wonderful resorts for this kind of tourism. We also offer so much in adventure tourism."
To give foreign tourists a glimpses of the British Raj, he said India was adding more luxury trains.
After the hit Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey and the Golden Chariot, the tourism department has already added the Maharaja Express to enhance luxury for foreign tourists, the tourism secretary said.
Further, India also offers 166 rural exotic sites and is adding 90,000 more hotel rooms in the next five years, Banerjee said.