In a bid to attract holiday makers from abroad, India has launched a major tourism promotion campaign at the ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel trade show.
About 80 travel agents, tour operators and hoteliers along with half-a-dozen state governments, the national carrier Air India, the Indian Railways and the Ministry of Tourism participated here in the show which opened yesterday to showcase the country as one of the most promising holiday destinations in the coming years.
Under the banner of the highly successful "incredible India" campaign, the Indian stakeholders are presenting the latest tourism products from across the country to a global gathering of travel trade professionals and top decision- makers in tourism business.
The main focus this time, four years after India's presentation as the "partner country" at the ITB, would be to develop niche markets for wellness, adventure, golf, medical, rural and eco-tourism, according to the country's travel trade representatives attending the ITB.
"We are confident that foreign tourist arrivals in India are now firmly back on their growth course and this trend is expected to continue in the coming years," they said.
The representatives shared the view that the government's decision to extend its visa on arrival scheme to six more countries had a positive impact on foreign tourist arrivals.
The scheme which was launched last year benefitted tourists from Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore and 18 other countries, they added.
Event-based tourism, especially sports tourism, which gained great significance after the success of Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi last year, is also being promoted in Berlin by presenting plans to host India's first Formula 1 race later this year, they said.
Foreign tourist arrivals in India, which dropped by 3.3% in 2009, staged a remarkable recovery and went up by 8% to more than 5.5 million tourists in 2010 and the outlook is very positive for further growth in the coming years, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Before the decline in 2009 caused by the global economic downturn, international terrorism and H1N1 influenza pandemic, foreign tourist arrivals in India were steadily expanding and went up from 2.38 million tourists in 2002 to 5.11 million tourists in 2009.
Foreign exchange earnings from tourism went up by 8.3% from Rs 15.064 crores in 2002 to Rs 34.96 crores in 2009.
In February, this year, foreign tourist arrivals surged by 15.1% to 692,000 tourists from 490,000 tourists in February, 2010, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Tourism.
A team of delegations led by the Deputy Secretary Ministry of Tourism Sanjay Kothari, that participated in this five-day promotion campaign at the ITB, also includes Joint Secretary Anand Kumar and Regional Director of the Government of India Tourism Office M N Javed.