Foreign tourist arrivals, forex earnings rise

Foreign tourist in Agra
India’s rank in the WEF’s travel and tourism competitiveness index jumped from 65 in 2013 to 34 in 2019.

The government initiated several steps in 2019 such as cut in E–visa fees, reduction in GST rates on hotel room booking and opening 120 new peaks for mountaineering to promote tourism industry. The January-November period saw 96,69,633 foreign tourist arrivals compared with 93,66,478 in the same period last year. The country’s position in the World Economic Forum’s travel and tourism competitiveness index improved from 65 in 2013 to 34 in 2019.

The government is giving a lot of stress on promoting the sector that has huge potential in job creation and forex earning. The tourism ministry collaborates with other stakeholders such as central government agencies, state governments, Union territory administrations and private sector players to promote foreign and domestic tourism. It has taken several initiatives to give a fillip to the sector including Swadesh Darshan, Prashad scheme and events like Ek Bharat, Shresth Bharat.

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At least 25,51,211 tourists arrived on e-tourist visa during the January-November period, compared with 20,61,511 in the same period last year, recording a growth rate of 23.8%. Rs 1,88,364 crore worth foreign exchange was earned during the period, compared with Rs 1,75,407 crore in the same period last year, according to a government release.

The government has developed thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan scheme — Rs 6,035.70 crore was sanctioned for 77 projects under the scheme. Several pilgrimage destinations were developed under the national mission on pilgrimage rejuvenation and spiritual, heritage augmentation drive (Prashad) scheme. Till date, 28 projects have been approved at a cost of Rs 840.02 crore under the scheme.

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The central government’s ‘apni dharohar, apni pehchaan’ scheme is developing tourist facilities at heritage sites to make them tourist friendly in a planned way. This is done in collaboration with the ministry of culture and Archaeological Survey of India, State/ UT governments. The tourism ministry has signed 27 agreements under the scheme.