Guwahati, Jan. 19 (ANI): Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi, who inaugurated the 'International Tourism Mart' here on Saturday, called for accelerating the rate of growth of foreign tourist arrivals.
Speaking on the occasion, he said that overwhelming response to the Mart shows the growing interest for travel to the unexplored destinations of the northeast.
Chiranjeevi said India is fast emerging as a leading tourist destination.
"Foreign tourist arrivals to the country have been increasing over the past years, but we need to accelerate the rate of growth. The Ministry of Tourism has, in fact, set a target of increasing the share of India in world tourist arrivals from the current 0.6 percent to 1 percent in the next five years," he said.
Referring to the various initiatives of the Tourism Ministry for the promotion of Tourism in the northeast, Chiranjeevi said: "Whereas 10 percent of the plan budget allocation of the ministry is earmarked for the north eastern region, the actual expenditure has exceeded the earmarked 10 percent year after year."
The Tourism Minister urged various stakeholders to have the vision to modernize to respond to changing trends in the global tourism sector and to partner with the Government to make India realize its true potential in tourism.
Chiranjeevi expressed the hope that the Mart will become a regular event.
"Such Marts will help in marketing this region in your respective markets," he added.
The three-day International Tourism Mart, which has been organized by the Ministry of Tourism, is being attended by 85 delegates from 23 countries including ASEAN countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Japan, Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, U.K. and USA.
The overseas delegates include Deputy Tourism Minister from Lao PDR, Executive heads of National Tourism Organisations from Cambodia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Bhutan, 55 tour operators, 9 hoteliers and 14 media representatives.
The delegates from abroad will engage in one-to-one meetings with sellers from the North Eastern Region and West Bengal. This will enable tourism product suppliers from the region to reach out to international and domestic buyers and promote tourism in the region. Besides foreign delegates, there are 70 domestic buyers from other parts of the country and 108 sellers from the nine participating States.
In addition to the business meetings, the three-day event will include, presentations, cultural evenings and press meets with the media from India and overseas.
Post-Mart familiarisation tours to the states in the region have been arranged by the State Governments for the overseas delegates, from January 21 to 28 to create awareness about the rich and varied tourism products of the states of the North Eastern region and give them first-hand knowledge and experience of the destination.
The International Tourism Mart, Guwahati 2013 is not only the first ever international tourism event to be organised in the north-eastern region, but also the first international tourism mart to focus on a specific region of India.
It is expected to bring together the tourism business fraternity and entrepreneurs from the eight north-eastern states of India and West Bengal.
The event has been planned and scheduled to facilitate interaction between buyers, sellers, media, government agencies and others. (ANI)