We can create Tourism Circuits in South Asia: Commerce Secretary


Indian tourism should be more integrated with the region, said Ms Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. She was speaking at a seminar on “Partnership with Incredible India: Focus SAARC Tourism” at the 2nd edition of the Global Exhibition on Services (GES) organized by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, SEPC and CII in Greater Noida today. “We need to brand South Asia. We also need to create tourism circuits within South Asia,” she said, adding that Europe has fought so many wars yet they speak with one voice in all international forums on all economic issues. ASEAN too has differences but when they speak outside, they speak as one. Indian government is clear in its position to take all possible measures to improve relations within South Asia.

Mr Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism said, “Indian tourism is poised for exponential growth.” India attracts 8 million foreign tourists but has the potential for 5-10 times more in the next 5 years. However, India’s domestic tourism has reached 1.45 billion annually. Mr Billa stated that terrorism divides but tourism unites. The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has brought tourism to the center-stage. He added that tourism provides multiple solutions: it creates jobs, it is mostly green and not disruptive to environment and it unites people. The government is taking many bold initiatives such as an easier visa regime. The ‘New Tourism Policy’ has been launched which targets to increase India’s share of global tourism from 0.64% in 2013 to 1% by 2020 and 2% by 2024. Sectors in which India has huge potential includes cultural tourism, medical tourism, wedding, yoga, adventure, etc. The Ministry is also rebooting its publicity and marketing plans keeping safety and security as its top priority.

Earlier, Mr Suraj Vaidya, President of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry stated that tourism generates 1 in every 11 jobs created in the world and 9% of the world GDP. It is an incredible sector that projects culture, heritage and lifestyle. South Asia has received 12 million tourists in 2005 and it has gone up to 17.1 million in 2014. He believed that tourism in South Asia has a long way to go and a lot has to be done. “We have to go beyond ‘Incredible India’ to ‘Incredible South Asia,’ he added.

Mr Kinley Wangdi, Chief Tourism Officer, Tourism Council of Bhutan stated that South Asia had some of the best campaigns and ‘Incredible India’ is one of them. He said, “We must improve basic facilities like health, cleanliness and poverty eradication programmes to attract tourists.” As moderator, Mr Subhash Goyal, President, IATO and Vice Chairman, STIC Travels Private Limited added that ‘3Ts – Technology, Telecommunication and Tourism’ will define the future.

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