Rajasthan expects eight percent rise in foreign tourists

Jaipur, April 15 (IANS) Rajasthan, the country’s famous tourist destination, expects a growth of about eight percent in foreign visitors in 2013, said a top tourism department official Monday.

“We expect an increase of around seven to eight percent in foreign arrivals in the current calendar year,” Rakesh Srivastava, Rajasthan government principal secretary, tourism, said, on the sidelines of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB) here.

Srivastava indicated that the state has ducked negative tourist sentiments that had set in with the global economic slowdown of 2008.

According to Srivastava, the state attracted nearly three crore (30 million) tourists, of whom 15 lakh (1.5 million) were foreign nationals.

“The year-on-year growth of in-bound tourists last year was eight percent. Domestic in-bound growth stood at 6.73 percent, while overall, inflow rise was at 5.74 percent,” Srivastava said.

Srivastava added that state has been working on many initiatives. It had formed a “tourist assistance force” with 275 personnel deployed at major destinations in the state, to come to the aid of travellers.

He added that the state government had also passed the Tourism Trade Regulation Act in 2010. “Under it, we have acted strongly to curb the menaces in the tourism sector,” the top bureaucrat said.

Rajasthan’s Tourism Minister Bina Kak said there has been no negative impact on the arrival rate in the state because of the global slowdown.

“We are seeing tourists coming in, and their numbers have been growing. More and more projects are also coming up, like hotels to accommodate the tourists,” Kak said late Sunday, while inaugurating the sixth edition of the GITB here.

She said tourism is a major economic growth driver, with a major share in the gross domestic product of the state’s economy.

Globally the sector has an 11.10 percent share of GDP. In India, it stands at 5.72 percent and internally, Rajasthan Tourism contributes 13.68 percent to the state’s GDP.

However, Jyotsna Suri, vice president, FICCI, and chairperson of FICCI Tourism Committee, said that the domestic tourism industry should also be looked at, so that growth strategies for this sub-section come up.

“The Indian domestic tourist industry has enormous potential. In the US the domestic tourist inflows drives many state economies. Similarly, we should look at ways to grow this segment in India,” said Suri, who is also the chairman and managing director of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

Suri said FICCI would organise a seminar on promotion of domestic tourism in September.

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