Published on : Monday, February 25, 2019
For boosting its tourism numbers, India is reaching out to South-east Asia with more unique tours and experiences. India welcomed 15.5 million foreign tourists last year, who contributed some 30 per cent to the country’s total tourism revenue of US$234 billion.
However, minister of state (IC) for Tourism India, KJ Alphons, expressed that these numbers need to increase “dramatically higher”.
To quote Alphons, “ASEAN is an extremely important group of countries. Our prime minister said our first priority in international relations is to look east. Working very closely with ASEAN countries is very much part of our prime minister’s plan.”
Tourism India hopes to boost and uphold the country’s large variety of natural landscapes, including 70 per cent of the Himalayas and wildlife sanctuaries, along with its culinary and heritage offerings.
Tour agencies are also boosting lesser-known attractions to draw travellers from across Asia. An emerging destination is northern India, where travellers are coming in for winter sports and its cool summer, when tourists can embark on motorcycle tours.
As of now, India’s limited air connectivity poses its main barrier to growth, with a runner-up being the lack of “quality infrastructure”, especially compared to its neighbours in South-east Asia, said Alphons.
Alphons said, “Our infrastructure is not exactly world-class. Now, we’re building six-lane roads, convention centres and airports. All these are being put in place in the last four years, but of course, we need to take it much further.”
On the agenda is increasing awareness of the country’s identity and tourism offerings across the world, said Alphons.
He said, “I’m happy to cooperate with the ASEAN countries so that people can see India and our people, and know that it is an incredible place, beyond just the Taj Mahal.”