Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan has invited international entrepreneurs to invest in Indian travel and tourism, citing vast opportunities and the government priority to developing the multi-crore sector.
India will invest more than Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) over the next five years on developing tourism hubs. ''Opportunities also exist for international investors to set up hotels and convention facilities in India,'' the minister said in Singapore on Sunday.
He pointed out that the government planned to add 60,000 hotel rooms of international standards to the present 80,000 five-star hotel rooms. ''Private investors could invest in hotels and even participate in the upgradation of infrastructure such as airports,'' he said.
Vast opportunities for investment exist with regard to nature, hill, adventure, rural and wild-life tourism and practices of Yoga, Siddha, Ayurveda as well as Unani systems of dealing with physical and mental ailments, he pointed out.
Jagamohan said, ''We are giving priority to the development of tourism sector, especially on the tourist inflow from the East Asian countries. Bilateral agreements have been signed with Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia and Singapore to promote tourism into India which has a rich history on Buddhism that would interest visitors from the East Asian region.''
A new tourism centre will also be opened in Beijing this year as China has declared India as a preferred tourism destination, said Jagmohan who made a presentation on the potential of Indian tourism and travel industry here on Saturday.
Indian tourism centres in these countries were also being upgraded to provide a wide range of information on India, he said.
''We target to double the annual inflow of 2.5 million tourists by 2007. India is also upgrading and developing airports nearer to tourist hubs as well as highways and transportation network,'' he said.
Jagmohan said tourist arrivals in India had gone up by 16 per cent year-on-year in the last four months and foreign exchange earnings from tourism increased by 24 per cent.
''We are keen to ensure that the tourist to India should get physically invigorated, mentally rejuvenated, culturally enriched and spiritually elevated and, on return to his country, he should feel India within him,'' he said.
India has 572 nature-endowed areas - 89 national parks, 483 wild-life sanctuaries and 3,606 protected monuments, he said.
Besides the presentation here, Jagmohan discussed tourism and cultural related matters with Singapore's Acting Minister of Information, Communications and the Arts David Lim and Minister of Industry and Trade George Yeo.
He also witnessed the signing of an agreement to loan artifacts to Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum.