K J Alphons, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism held an interactive session with Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of various countries stationed in Delhi yesterday. The Ambassadors/representatives of fifteen countries including Austria, Argentina, Bhutan, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Philippines, Brazil, Malaysia, Germany, Indonesia, Finland, Russia, New Zealand and Oman were present for the meeting. The meeting was held to promote bilateral tourism between India and these countries.
Addressing the participants, the Minister said that the Indian culture can contribute a lot to the world community and Indian culture and philosophy talks about bringing happiness and joy to all, and we want to promote and spread this message to the world. He also outlined the overall growth trajectory of the Indian Tourism Industry, especially in the year 2017 where the Foreign Tourist Arrivals crossed the `10 million mark for the first time and with the inclusion of NRI’s, the international tourist arrival stood at 15.54 million. The minister also presented various proactive steps taken by the government of India towards tourism infrastructure development, ease of travel, safety and security of the tourists and integrated global marketing campaign.
The participants highlighted the importance of improving connectivity to promote tourism and a few countries requested for direct flights of Air India connecting the capital cities of various countries to India. They also offered to give incentives to Bollywood producers/directors for shooting films at beautiful locations in their countries.
As part of the interaction, a presentation on the tourism trends, India’s strong outbound travel potential and few promotional videos were shared with the invitees by Joint Secretary, Tourism Ministry, Suman Billa. Secretary tourism, Rashmi Verma and senior officials of Ministry of Tourism including the Chairman and Managing Director of ITDC, participated in this interaction.
The interaction with diplomatic representatives was held under the aegis of the Ambassador’s Forum under “Meet the leader” series.
Addressing mediapersons after the Ambassadors’ meet, Alphons said that the Ministry wants to promote India through the message of ‘Transformational Experience’ as highlighted in its recent promotional films like ‘Yogi of the Racetrack’ which has already had record breaking 25 million views. These videos are being translated into 9 foreign languages, the Minister added. Giving more details, Shri Alphons said that India is looking at China as an emerging market for foreign tourist arrivals and the Tourism Ministry has already set up its office in Beijing. The promotional videos are also being translated into Chinese, he explained. He further explained that the government is working to tap the potential of Buddhist tourism. Tourist facilities at Sarnath are being upgraded tremendously along with road connectivity and wayside amenities and the same are likely to be completed by year end, the Minister disclosed.
Earlier in the day, the Minister inaugurated a workshop on development, branding and promotion of Buddhist circuit and participated in the discussions on the development of Sarnath under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism. This workshop was conducted in partnership with the World Bank group. The representatives of the State governments of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Archaeological Survey of India,Varanasi Development Authority participated in the workshop.
The Ministry of Tourism has identified Buddhist Circuit as one of the thematic Circuits under its flagship "Swadesh Darshan” Scheme for development of Infrastructure in various states in the country with the help of State Government/Private stakeholders.