Of Foreign tourist arrivals....

In happy tidings for India’s tourism sector, 2017 ended on a high with the number of foreign tourist arrivals crossing the 10-million mark, which pushed the country’s earnings to over $27 billion.

The sector is looking to ramp up tourist arrivals this year with new and niche projects. “I think our sector is doing very well. But am I happy with the numbers? I want these numbers to increase dramatically because India is an incredible place and we have everything for everybody. So we are trying to bring in lot more people,” Union tourism minister KJ Alphons said in Kochi.

The minister also said the sector is contributing 6.88% to India’s GDP and had a 12% share of jobs in the total employment figures in 2017.

The increase in numbers has helped India ramp up its overall ranking on the Tourism Competitiveness Index, 2017. It jumped 25 places from 65 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. Ministry sources attributed the improvement to the government’s renewed focus on developing infrastructure besides promoting theme-based and religious circuits under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. “Eleven projects have been sanctioned under this scheme in 2017-18 alone, taking the total number up to 67 projects. The plan is for holistic development of pilgrimage destinations, the Buddhist circuit being a case in point,” a ministry official said.

Sources in the ministry also said that the government is “looking East” in the tourism sector to promote India’s north-eastern states. As part of the efforts to introduce new concepts to engage the larger world, India’s golf courses have found mention in the ministry’s ‘Incredible India’ campaign alongside the heritage monuments.

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