Gear­ing up for 10 mn ar­rivals in 2016

In­dia recorded 7.7 mil­lion for­eign tourist ar­rivals in 2014, and in 2015, the fig­ure crossed 8 mil­lion. Sarab Jit Singh, Vice Chair­man, Fed­er­a­tion of As­so­ci­a­tions in In­dian Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity (FAITH), shares with rec­om­men­da­tions to ac­com­plish a figur

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Singh has put across cer­tain rec­om­men­da­tions to the Min­istry of Tourism, Govern­ment of In­dia, to achieve this tar­get of 10 mil­lion for­eign ar­rivals. He says that for var­i­ous rea­sons, the tourism sec­tor has shown slow growth rate as com­pared to cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod of pre­vi­ous years. Singh says that in spite of grow­ing ca­pac­ity across tourist des­ti­na­tions in the coun­try and new des­ti­na­tions com­ing up, the growth rate is not pick­ing up.

One such is­sue of con­cern is the per­cep­tion of In­dia as ex­pen­sive, par­tic­u­larly in com­par­i­son to other com­pet­ing des­ti­na­tions. “A ma­jor rea­son for this be­ing the tax com­po­nent, which is 20–25 per cent of the tourist pack­age cost. All other lead­ing tourist des­ti­na­tions have ef­fec­tive rate of tax of 5–8 per cent only,” Singh says.

Laud­ing the govern­ment’s e-Tourist Visa (eTV) scheme, he re­marks, “eTV for 113 coun­tries is a good step for­ward but some­how there isn’t enough pub­lic­ity. Also, many a time due to tech­ni­cal glitches in the web­site, a tourist is un­able to process the pay­ment.” He rec­om­mends that eTV should be for a pe­riod of 60 days with pro­vi­sion for mul­ti­ple en­tries. He also said that one should be al­lowed to ap­ply for visa six months prior to the date of de­par­ture since most hol­i­days are planned six months in ad­vance.

Singh points out that the tar­iff of lux­ury trains in the coun­try is in USD, which plays a spoil­sport for agents and oper­a­tors in In­dia and over­seas. Not only do the tourists end up pay­ing more, but also

The pro­mo­tion of In­dian tourism prod­ucts abroad has suf­fered be­cause many posts in the over­seas In­dian Tourism of­fices have been ly­ing va­cant for more than a year. This has ad­versely af­fected tourist ar­rivals into In­dia.

Sarab Jit Singh Vice Chair­man, FAITH

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