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Record increase in foreign tourist arrivals in india

A record 13 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals during the past year with as many as 4.43 million people from various countries visited India compared to 3.93 million in 2005, reports HS Bartwal.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2007 20:56 IST

With India fast becoming a popular tourism destination abroad, it has achieved a record 13 per cent growth in foreign tourist arrivals during the past year when as many as 4.43 million people from various countries visited it in comparison to 3.93 million in 2005.

As a result, foreign exchange earnings from tourism also showed a phenomenal increase of 14.6 per cent during the year when the country earned US $ 6,569.34 million as against US $5,730.86 million in 2005, according to the latest official figures released by the Union Tourism Ministry.

But the country has yet to achieve its full potential from tourism as it lags far behind Asian neighbours like China and Singapore which have a significantly larger volume of international visitors.

The Ministry has now set an ambitious target of achieving the level of 10 million foreign visitors by the end of the Eleventh Five Year Plan in 2011 for which it will continue with its aggressive two-pronged strategy of upgrading tourism infrastructure and pursuing a vigorous marketing campaign abroad to position India as a global brand.

During the next five year period, it is planned to diversify principal source markets to include countries such as South Africa,Israel, Spain, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina which offer a high growth potential.

The Ministry also aims at concentrating upon countries like South Africa, Mauritius,Kenya, Malaysia, and Fiji which have a large Indian diaspora.Besides, it is proposed to target Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in other places to tempt them to visit the country of their origin and discover their roots.

According to the Tourism Ministry’s annual report for 2006-07 , in the domestic tourism sector, it has set a target for achieving 760 million visits by the year 2011 at an annual average growth rate of 12 per cent.The objective is to popularise the culture and natural beauty of different regions, pilgrimage sites as well as products like adventure and rural tourism.

The rising number of foreign and domestic tourists has naturally led to tremendous demand for quality accommodation which is in short supply.To meet the growing requirements, it is planned to increase the hotel accommodation capacity from the current one lakh rooms in the country to two lakh rooms by 2011.

With this in view, 146 new hotel projects with over 1.26 lakh rooms were approved during the past year.In addition, 29 foreign technical collaboration proposals for hotel projects and 20 cases of FDI were also also cleared.

Efforts are on to set up new hotels on surplus land with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Indian Railways besides building up extra capacity of budget category rooms through recognition of spare rooms available with house owners by classifying these facilities under the ‘Incredible India bed and breakfast establishments’.

First Published: Apr 18, 2007 20:51 IST