India Wants to Double Tourist Numbers by 2016: Sahai

India, which sees an average of six million tourists visiting the country every year, wants to double the number by the year 2016, by promoting wellness and medical tourism, Union Tourism Minister has said.
India gets just over six million tourists every year and the government wants to double this number by the year 2016, Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai said.

He said that outbound tourists from India are four times more than inbound tourists and the government has decided to take steps to improve these numbers.

He was speaking to media on the sidelines of an Incredible India Road Show which was organised here yesterday.

Senior officials and tourism authorities of Assam, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra were also present on the occasion.

"We need 200,000 rooms in India. We need exhibition centres, convention centres, theme parks etc.

"There is scope for promoting wellness tourism, medical tourism by propagating ayurveda and yoga etc. We have the Himalayas, we have 7,000 km of coastal areas that are all potential tourist attractions," the minister said.

Sahai announced that a tourism promotion forum will be set up at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi which will have representation from the tourism industry.

He said that around Rs 40,000 crore is needed to develop India's tourism industry.

"The tourism promotion forum will suggest ways to improve things and we will act upon their suggestions," the minister said.

He added that a MoU will also be signed between India and the UAE to jointly promote tourism.

Speaking on the occasion, India's ambassador to the UAE M K Lokesh said there is a lot of diversity in terms of tourist attractions in India.

India is the third largest source of foreign tourists to the UAE, he said.

Tour operators and airline officials also attended a B2B session that was organised on the sidelines of the Road Show.

There has been a consistent growth of foreign tourist arrivals from the Gulf and the Middle East region to India over the last 2-3 years with year 2010 having registered an overall growth of around 17 per cent over the previous year.

According to India Tourism officials, foreign tourist arrivals in India touched 6.29 million in 2011.

Till May this year, the number had reached 2.8 million and the foreign exchange earning during this period stood at USD 7297 million.

The ministry of tourism has set an aim to increase India's share in international tourist arrivals from 0.6 per cent to 1 per cent by the year 2016.
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Reader's comments(1)
1: Can India compete with neighboring countries given the high cost and poor infrastructure we have when it comes to tourism?
Posted by: Aubb - 03 Jul, 2012