Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture along with an Indian delegation participated in the “World Travel Market (WTM) 2016” in London, United Kingdom, which is one of the largest international events of the travel and tourism industry. India is the official Premier Partner at WTM 2016 with the theme – ‘India – The Land of Eternal Heritage’.
The Indian delegation comprises of Chief Ministers, State Tourism Ministers, dignitaries from the State Governments & Union Territories, Industry partners and officials of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. Around 42 co-exhibitors/ partners including State / Union Territory Tourism departments, tour operators, hoteliers, resort owners, Air India, IRCTC, ITDC, and other stakeholders are present at the India Stand, to showcase their diverse tourism products and services.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma, in his address, said that the Indian tourism outlook is certainly very promising with an upswing in the growth of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India in the recent years. In 2015, India received 8.03 million Foreign Tourists as compared to 7.68 million in 2014 with a growth rate of 4.5%. In 2015, the tourist arrivals in India from the U.K alone was 867601 with a 3.4% growth over the previous year (2014).
The Minister said that India has set a target to achieve 1% of international tourist arrivals through a multi-pronged approach, including proactive marketing strategies in partnership with the tourism stakeholders.
Dr. Sharma said that the Government of India is fully aware of the contribution of tourism towards the economic growth and stands committed to make it easy for the travellers to visit India. The initiative taken by the Government of India to introduce Electronic Tourist Visa (eTV) has been a great step in this direction and has further boosted tourist arrivals. The facility of eTV is at present available for nationals of 150 countries including Visa on Arrival for Japan.
He further said that India has a rich and diverse natural, cultural, and religious heritage which provides a unique opportunity for tourism. The architecture of India’s temples, palaces, forts, the grandeur of its sculptures, and the beauty of its paintings, all offer an unparalleled experience. The desert circuit in Rajasthan, snow-bound Himalayas, back waters of Kerala, and the beaches of Goa are very popular with international tourists. India has 35 World Heritage Sites including cultural properties and bio geographical zones.