India registered an 11 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in 2016 (calendar year) over 2015, with as many as nine million tourists visiting the country. This excludes visits by non-resident Indians.
Revealing the figures during a session on ‘Partnering with diaspora to accelerate tourism in India’ on the second day of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here on Sunday, Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said this was way above the projected 4.5 per cent growth. This also resulted in a 15 per cent growth in income from FTAs, he said.
‘Liberal visa regime’
India’s e-tourist visa was one of the most liberal visas, he said, adding that 161 countries were being covered under the scheme. He also said India was emerging as a popular destination for wedding tourism.
Among the plans to promote tourism in the country is development of 13 theme-wise circuits, including spiritual, heritage, wildlife, Buddhist, Ramayana and Krishna. These circuits are to be introduced in 12 to 18 months at a cost of Rs. 100 crore each.
Admitting to a gap in demand and supply, Mr. Zutshi said the Ministry was also prioritising homestays and involving homestay listing portals to plug the gap.
The Tourism Ministry is also investing in amenities along highways, including toilets and interpretation centres.