Multicultrual India to boost faith tourism

New Delhi, Jan 6 (IANS) Multicultural India is planning to pitch faith tourism by developing more religious tourist circuits to attract foreign footfalls and encourage greater domestic travelling that has seen double digit growth in recent years benefiting the local economy.

Faith tourism is "recession-proof" and, realising this, the government is making efforts to promote pilgrimage tourism from ASEAN countries to Buddhist centres and opening a Jewish centre in Kochi.

"We have to have a proactive approach for developing these centres," said Tourism Secretary Parvez Dewan told IANS.

Other circuits could be the 22 Sufi centres and the British-era war cemeteries in the country.

There are also plans to connect pilgrimage centres in the North with those in the South.

The government has appointed a national level consultant to identify the spiritual tourism circuits.

Tourism minister K. Cheeranjeevi told Parliament last month that while identifying and developing the circuits, efforts would be made to plug infrastructure gaps and provide necessary amenities to tourists.

"We should be sensitive to the needs of people who are visiting these centres," added Dewan.

"For instance, hotels set up in Jain religious centres should address the values and food habits of that people," he said at a roundtable on tourism in the capital recently.

After the downturn following the world financial crisis and Mumbai terror attack, foreign tourist arrivals have been on the rise and the government wants to maintain the momentum by developing more sites and certain niche circuits.

According to the Planning Commission Working Group on Tourism, India is targeting one percent of world tourist arrivals by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan (2017).

India's share in international tourist arrivals in 2011 was 0.64 percent.

According to he World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), nearly 40 million Indians are employed in tourism and the country has the highest growth potential over a 10-year period between 2009 and 2018. And yet, growth in the sector has been inadequate in terms of its potential and contribution to the overall economy.

The sector had registered an annual growth rate of 2.04 percent during the six-year period of 2004-05 to 2010-11.

Recognising this and the significance of the industry, the government last month relaxed its tourist visa rules by lifting restrictions imposed on foreign visitors, barring those from a few selected countries.

According to the tourism ministry, 6.29 million foreign tourists arrived in 2011, earning the country $16.5 billion.

In the first 11 months of 2012, 5.89 million tourists came to India against 5.57 million in 2011, earning the nation $16.78 billion, a growth of 22.1 per cent over the like period in 2011.

And as more business is taking place at the digital space, the ministry would soon come out with a website listing important tourist destinations in the country and facilities available there.

"This will serve as a comprehensive catalogue for the foreign and domestic tourists, including those who travel in the pilgrimage routes," said Dewan.

Industry watchers say there is a much larger number of Indians travelling to a far greater number of destinations in the country, contributing considerably to the economy.

In fact, a 2002 policy paper said "due importance should be given to domestic tourism, particularly tourism connected with pilgrimage".

A host of factors like rising disposable income, popularity of weekend getaways, good marketing by states and a depreciating rupee curbing foreign travels have contributed to the growth of domestic tourism.

Around 851 million domestic tourists travelled within the country in the January-October period in 2012, up from 748 million in 2011.

India is targeting domestic tourism growth of about 12 percent by the end of the 12th Plan.

(Saroj Mohnaty can be contacted at saroj.m@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

It's getting increasingly tough for bowlers: Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Moores set for England recall

Moores set for England recall

The 51-year-old will succeed Andy Flower, who stepped down after five years in charge following the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia in January. More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »