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India eyes GCC tourist market

DUBAI, April 30, 2018

The Indian tourism outlook is very promising with an upswing in the growth of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India in the recent years, particularly from the Middle East.

There has been consistent and positive growth of FTAs from the Gulf region to India over the last 3 years with 2017 having registered an overall growth of around 10 per cent over the previous year.

Countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Turkey and Sudan have registered a significant growth and are emerging as major tourism generating markets for India from this region.

Hoping to maintain the same pace of growth rate, India's Ministry of Tourism put the spotlight on its tourism potential - business, leisure and medical value travel - at this year's Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which took place in Dubai from April 22-25.

More than 20 participants from India, representing the travel trade, diversity of Heritage, Nature, Culture and Wellness tourism participated in the India Pavilion.

The theme chosen for ATM 2018 was “Adventure, Yoga & Wellness Tourism”. One of the highlights of  ‘Incredible India’ showcased at ATM was the depiction of India as a multi-faceted tourist destination for luxury, wildlife, and wellness/medical tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism also took the initiative of identifying, diversifying, developing and promoting upcoming niche tourism products viz. Golf Tourism, Adventure,
Mice & Cruise Tourism.

India’s advantage with respect to promoting cruise tourism is the long coastline from Gujarat to West Bengal and strong positioning of ports that gives a natural advantage to the country to attract international cruise liners. Another advantage for India is its proximity to already popular cruise destinations in the South Asian region.

With the aim of promoting India as a year-round destination and attracting tourists with varied interests, it was recently decided to do away with biometrics for e-Visa passengers at the seaports to ensure that passenger movement out of the ships are expedited.

To promote Adventure Tourism to India and to create awareness about the varied adventure options available, the Ministry of Tourism has decided to celebrate the year 2018 as ‘The Year
of Adventure Tourism’. Dramatic Himalayan landscapes in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, each dissected by raging rivers, provide the perfect geography for adventure sport such as white water rafting, rock climbing, skiing, low and high altitude trekking, canyoning and paragliding and horse polo, and water sports such as scuba diving, parasailing, kayaking and canoeing in Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep and Andamans.

One of the regions in focus was the North Eastern region of India, which comprises the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh - Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. Promotion of tourism of the North Eastern States of India with its rich and diverse tourism products viz. a variety of attractive flora and fauna and also home to the unique Asian one horned Rhino, was given special emphasis. This area is also becoming popular with tourists for River Cruises. The rich natural beauty, serene landscapes and rare flora and fauna are the main attractions in these areas.

One of the priorities of the Government of India is the safety and security of both domestic as well as international tourists travelling in India. Accordingly, several measures have been taken in this regard. The launch of a 24x7 Toll Free Tourist Helpline in 12 international languages, including German, is a big step in this direction. This Helpline is available on the existing Toll Free Number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 for dialling in India. The Ministry of Tourism has also taken steps to sensitize drivers, guides and other stakeholders to highlight the theme of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ which means ‘Guest is God’.

The Government of India has also taken an initiative to liberalise the visa regime by providing easy access to visitors to the country in the form of e-Tourist Visa which was launched in November 2014.

The e-Tourist Visa facility, now extended to 163 countries (including Jordan, Oman, Palestine & UAE), has led to the ease of travel to India. In 2017, a total of 1.6 million tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1 million in 2016, registering a growth of 57.2 per cent. A number of GCC visitors have benefited from the e-Visa scheme with a total of 34,134 visitors coming into to the country from the UAE in 2017. The total number of FTAs from UAE rose from 67,165 in 2016 to 68,045 in 2017, an increase of 1.31 per cent.

E-Visa is now available under three sub-categories - ‘e-Tourist Visa’, ‘e-Business Visa’ and ‘e-Medical Visa’. The window for application under e-Visa has been increased from the existing 30 days to 120 days and the duration of stay in India under e-Visa has been increased from 30 days to 60 days.

The complete list of countries eligible for e-Visa is available on https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Dubai | Gulf | India | GCC | ATM | tourists |

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