Travel

Indian Tourism Ministry Mulls Setting Up Offices in US, UK, Russia

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India’s tourism ministry is planning to set up offices in the United States, United Kingdom and Russia to boost the arrival of visitors to the country. The government will also establish facilitation centres at airports in metropolitan cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to assist tourists when they land in India.

The Indian government, which had earlier this year announced the launch of its Incredible India 2.0 campaign to showcase the country as a prime tourist destination, is mulling several steps to spur growth in the sector. Among the projects in the pipeline are market-specific campaigns in various countries across different media platforms.

“We feel a synergy between the Incredible India campaign and different overseas markets will get us better results,” tourism secretary Rashmi Verma told the Economic Times. “Our offices in different countries would work on a hub and spoke model which will be in sync with our public relations agency. This time the state governments are also complementing our plans and the industry can plan marketing campaigns around it. Our spends are higher than last year.”

The new campaign

The new Incredible India 2.0 campaign, scheduled to be  launched on September 27, which is marked as World Tourism Day, will also involve a revamped interactive website. “We are also looking at crowd-sourcing content… blogs and comments, including on social networking sites, about a particular place will be also put up on the site,” Verma had earlier told The Hindu.

Foreign tourist arrivals to India showed a 15 per cent growth from January to July this year, with around 56.74 lakh tourist arrivals in the period, as compared to a corresponding figure of 49.03 lakh in the same period last year, according to tourism ministry data released by the ministry in August. While most number of tourists (20.12%) arrived from Bangladesh, the US came next with 16.26%, followed by the UK (10.88%) and France (3.01%), the data showed.

An increase in foreign exchange earnings through tourism was also recorded in the period from January to July this year, with Rs 1,02,082 crore collected as compared to Rs 87, 034 crore in the same period last year.

The Incredible India 2.0 campaign will focus on, among the other things, the rich cultural heritage of India. The country’s ancient spirituality and wellness traditions are expected to get a fillip, as the government plans to develop at least 10 cities with potential in spirituality and wellness sectors that can be promoted. Among the places being considered for development in this regard are Guwahati, Kanyakumari, and Lahaul and Spiti, besides Ayodhya and Mathura.

Cruise tourism

Also taking shape are the government’s plans in the cruise tourism sector. A task force set up by the government in November 2015, co-chaired by Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar, and tourism secretary Rashmi Verma, have for a year  worked with consultant firm Bermello and Ajamil (B&A) to prepare a roadmap for cruise tourism in the country. With many issues such as e-visas and landing cards for tourists and cruise ship crew members, cabotage, and rules related to leisure boats and costal regulatory zone being addressed, it is hoped that the project may be ready for launch by the end of this year.

Indian has an enormous potential for cruise tourism, and the sector, according to B&A, can create 250,000 jobs and generate revenues of over Rs 35,000 crore for the government, according to Moneycontrol.com.

India is obviously sitting on a huge untapped tourism potential. The total market size of Indian tourism and hospitality sector, which was $117.7 billion in 2014, is expected to reach $418.9 billion by 2022, according to industry estimates.

“A goldmine of an opportunity awaits to be tapped,” the first ever mid-year Economic Survey released in August said.

The survey showed that India’s share in international tourist arrivals in 2015 was mere 1.1 per cent while the top-ranking country, France, recorded a corresponding figure of 7.1 per cent and China was placed fourth with a share of 4.8 per cent. Also, although India’s ranking has gone up 12 spots to reach the 40th position among 136 countries in the ‘Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017’, it is still far behind the other nations in parameters like health and hygiene, security, human resources and tourist infrastructure.

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