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2010 offered a mixed bag for tourism sector

Last updated on: December 31, 2010 14:28 IST

2010 offered a mixed bag for tourism sector

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Arun Kumar Das in New Delhi

Notwithstanding its failure to woo 100,000 foreign tourists during the Commonwealth Games as targeted, 'Incredible India' attracted close to five million outstation visitors this year as the tourism ministry had its share of glory and missed opportunities.

With a double-digit growth in the foreign tourist arrivals, 2010 was otherwise a good year for the ministry.

Incredible India campaign attracted 4.93 million foreign tourists till November as compared to 4.46 million during the same period last year, registering a growth of 10.4 per cent.

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2010 offered a mixed bag for tourism sector

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Despite the massive campaign launched by the ministry to promote India for the Commonwealth Games, tourist arrivals did not touch the 100,000-mark target during the sporting extravaganza.

The year began on a promising note with visa on arrival scheme introduced for tourists from Singapore, Finland, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Japan.

A total number of 5,644 VoAs were issued under this scheme during January-November. Maximum tourists from Singapore (1623) followed by New Zealand (1604), Japan (1241), Finland (1123) and Luxembourg (53) availed the scheme.

Encouraged by the response, the VoA scheme is being extended for five more countries -- Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Philippines -- with effect from January 1, 2011.

The tourism ministry issued licences to 450 fully trained tourist guides to cater to the growing number of foreign tourists in India.

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Image: The Gateway of India, Mumbai.

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Foreign exchange earnings from tourism were Rs 57,850 crore (Rs 578.5 billion) as compared to Rs 47,918 crore (Rs 479.18 billion) during the same period of 2009, registering a growth rate of 20.7 per cent.

A massive campaign was carried out to promote India as a host country for the Commonwealth Games.

While radio spots and road shows were launched in the overseas market, TV commercials, billboards ads were unleashed in domestic market for the Games.

Though not many hotels could come up as expected before the Commonwealth Games, there was no shortage of hotel rooms during the event.

The ministry of Tourism provided central assistance for training of service providers like tourist taxi drivers, auto drivers and immigration personnel in Delhi, NCR region and Agra for making them tourist friendly and hospitable.

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A total of 2,200 taxi, coach drivers were trained in Haryana Institute of Public Administration.

ITDC, a PSU under the Tourism Ministry played a major role in furnishing rooms for the sportspersons at the Games Village.

Three ITDC hotels -- Ashoka, Samrat and Janpath -- did brisk business as these were fully occupied during the Games.

Taking a holistic approach, the Code of Conduct for safe and honourable tourism was adopted by the ministry for the first time in the country.

This was done essentially to strengthen the critical pillar of safety mentioned in the National Tourism Policy, 2002 and ensure that Indian tourism follows international standards of safe tourism practices, applicable for both tourists and local people and communities who may be impacted by tourism in some way.

The code was formed to sensitise travellers and the travel industry, close all possibilities of exploitation, specifically of women and children and to make India a safe and honourable tourism destination.

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The initiative was launched by the ministry in association with PATA India Chapter, Save the Children -- India, United Nations Office on Drugs & Crimes and Equitable Tourism Option for its implementation as it is important and essential to enhance the image of the country and add more value to the 'Incredible India' campaign.

The guidelines for the Code are being finalised and likely to be issued shortly.

During 2010, the ministry of Tourism released social awareness campaigns on TV, radio and outdoor featuring cinestar Aamir Khan as brand ambassador.

The objective of the campaigns was to sensitise masses and various stakeholders about the importance of tourism. Road shows conducted in association with PATA India Chapter at Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto and Los Angeles with 20 tour operators from India.

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Image: A woman learns to ski on a slope in Gulmarg, 55 km (34 miles) west of Srinagar.
Photographs: Danish Ismail/Reuters
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To promote wellness and medical tourism, road shows were held in Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait and Doha focusing presentations on medical and wellness facilities in the country.

Road shows were also organised in Japan and South Korea, Malayasia, Thailand and Vietnam to attract Buddhist tourists and promote the Mahaparinirvana Express.

India food festivals were organised in several cities of the US, Argentina, Gulf nations, Syria and South Africa.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between ministry of Tourism and International Finance Corporation for Integrated Buddhist Circuit Development Strategy targeting increased private investment, local employment, tourism numbers and small and medium enterprises growth in destinations along the Buddhist circuit in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.


Image: Asian Heart Institute.

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