iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
The tourism industry of India is showing signs of revival after the pandemic. According to the latest data released by the Bureau of Immigration, India received 6.19 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during 2022 as compared to 1.52 million during the same period in 2021. Though the increase may seem appreciable, the foreign tourist inflow is still not up to the pre-pandemic levels – there were 10.93 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India in 2019.
Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) through tourism in India during 2022 was Rs 134,543 crore as compared to Rs 65,070 crore in 2021.
To provide an enriching experience to tourists, the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of India under its Schemes of Swadesh Darshan, PRASHAD, and Assistance to Central Agencies, provides central financial assistance to state governments, Union territories, and central agencies for the development of tourism-related infrastructure and facilities in the country.
The Ministry of Tourism has set up a 24×7 Multi-Lingual Tourist Info-Helpline on the tollfree number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 in 12 Languages including 10 international languages (German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic), Hindi, and English for domestic and foreign tourists to provide support service in term of information relating to Travel in India and to offer appropriate guidance to tourists in distress while traveling in India.
The Ministry of Tourism has initiated several initiatives to give a boost to the tourism sector in the country and to increase foreign tourist arrivals. The government is now providing the facility of e-Visa for five sub-categories – e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa, e-Medical visa, e-Medical Attendant visa, and e-Conference visa for visitors from 166 countries. E-Visa norms have been further liberalized and the visa fee has been substantially reduced.
In order to woo international and domestic tourists, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has declared “Incredible India! Visit India Year 2023”. Focusing on the G20 meetings that are being held at 55 destinations throughout the country, infrastructure in these cities is being augmented and upgraded. Tourism destinations are being highlighted in the run-up to the G20 meetings and excursion of the delegates is also being organized to nearby tourist attractions.
The government is taking the G20 delegates to these destinations so that they can act as India’s tourism ambassadors when they return to their countries. To improve the tourist experience, important tourist sites and facilities are being upgraded to international standards, said the Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Development of North-Eastern Region, G Kishan Reddy replied in Rajya Sabha on April 6.
The government of India also launched the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification Program, a digital initiative that aims at creating an online learning platform with the objective of creating a pool of well-trained professional tourist facilitators across the country to support tourists. To encourage domestic tourists the government has launched the Dekho Apna Desh initiative with the objective of creating awareness about the rich heritage and culture of the country and encouraging citizens to travel within the country. Capacity Building for Service Providers (CBSP) Schemes are being conducted to train tourism facilitators and up-grade service standards.
New mountain peaks have been opened for mountaineering and trekking to give encourage adventure tourism in the country and GST rates have been lowered for hotels to improve India’s competitiveness as a global tourism destination.
On the recommendation of the Ministry of Tourism, 59 tourism routes have been awarded to identified airlines by the Ministry of Civil Aviation under the RCS UDAN Scheme, for which the Ministry of Tourism extends financial support in form of Viability Gap Funding. Of these 51 routes have been operationalized.