More tourists choose India’s bouquet of destinations
The success of the Incredible India tourism campaign, which was pretty much everywhere over the past two years, has clearly paid off for the Asian giant in terms of both volume and value.
Foreign tourist arrivals into India were up 11.5 per cent for the first six months of 2008 over the same period in 2007.
In 2007, some five million travellers headed to India, nearly double from 2000, according to the Tourism Ministry. Of these, 172,689 were Middle Eastern visitors, an increase of 17 per cent over 2006, which saw just under 150,000 visitors from the region.
According to statistics released to TTN by the India Tourism office in Dubai, foreign tourist arrivals have grown 78 per cent over the last five years, while foreign exchange earnings increased 122 per cent in the same period.
Future predictions by the World Travel and Tourism Council expect an 8.8 per cent growth rate over the next decade, the highest in the world. In line with that forecast, the country expects to welcome 10 million tourists by 2010.
Besides established source markets such as the GCC, Yemen and Egypt, the authority is also expanding its marketing to tourists in Turkey, Iran, Sryia and the relatively untapped North African countries.
Specific new initiatives that the regional office is undertaking within the Middle East, to position India as a year round destination, are campaigns to promote medical tourism, rural tourism, monsoon tourism, adventure tourism, bollywood tourism and beach tourism sectors.
Indeed, as a destination, the country truly offers something for everyone. Those in search of soul and spirituality must head to the hippie haunts of Varanasi and Rishikesh on the banks of the sacred Ganga river; while party animals can live it up on the laidback beaches of the former Portuguese colony that is Goa.
Yoga and holistic Ayurvedic healing can be found both up north in the breathtaking Himalayas, or deep in the south on the backwaters of Kerala. People wishing to be part of a film need venture no further than Mumbai, where a Bollywood tour will take the curious into the heartland of the country’s entertainment industry, which churns out 1,000 films a year, while tea lovers can take to the hills of the seven states of the far northeast, on the border with China, where the world’s best brews come from.
By CLARK KELLY