New Delhi: The tourism sector in India has begun showing the sign of recovery from the Covid-19 slump. In 2022, around 6.19 million foreign tourists visited India as compared to 1.52 million arrivals in 2021. There were 10.93 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during pre-pandemic year 2019, according to the Bureau of Immigration.
Officials attributed the jump in FTAs to the initiatives taken up by ministry of tourism under its Schemes of Swadesh Darshan, PRASHAD and assistance to Central agencies, and financial support granted to state governments/ Union territories for 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 toll free 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 & 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 travelling in India.
Officials of the tourism ministry said that the Central government has taken several initiatives to give boost to the tourism sector in the country and to increase foreign tourist arrivals. It has launched Dekho Apna Desh initiative with the objective of creating awareness among the citizens about the rich heritage and culture of the country and encourage citizens to travel within the country.
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Besides, many programmes were conducted under the ‘capacity building for service providers’ (CBSP) scheme to train and up-grade manpower to provide better service standards. Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification Programme has also been launched to attract both foreigners and domestic tourists through 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.
The procedure to offer visa has also been simplified. New mountain peaks have been opened for mountaineering/trekking to give boost to adventure tourism in the country. The GST on hotels rooms with tariffs of ₹1,001 to ₹7,500/night has been lowered to 12%; those above ₹7,501 to 18% to increase India’s competitiveness as a tourism destination.
On the recommendation of the ministry of tourism, 59 tourism routes have been awarded to the identified airlines by the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) under the RCS UDAN Scheme, for which the tourism ministry extends financial support in form of VGF (viability gap funding). Of them, 51 of these routes have been operationalized till date.
Tourism offerings are being highlighted in run up to the G20 meetings. Excursion of delegates is also organised to nearby tourist attractions. Effort is being made to make G20 delegates visiting these destinations are going back to their countries as tourism ambassadors. Important tourism sites and facilities are being upgraded to international standards.