The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sharp rise in tourist arrivals

New Delhi, Nov. 8: After almost two gloomy years for Destination India, the travel and tourism industry has reached its peak. India’s tourist arrivals is likely to touch 3 million, says the tourism ministry.

“India got the maximum number of tourists in 2000. A lot of sad incidents after that changed the course of tourists travel to India. But this year is already showing signs of being exceptionally good. Statistics show that we have already received 2.5 million tourists in April-September,” Rashmi Verma, additional director general, ministry of tourism.

Admitting that it is the Buddha-centric interest which is drawing large number of tourists from south-east Asia, Verma said, “Our focus on promoting intra-regional trade for short-haul travellers has paid off.”

Statistics available with the tourism ministry show that room occupancy rate in India is 100 per cent till February 2004. However, last year during the peak season (October-February), room occupancy barely touched 70 per cent.

In an attempt to improve the image and perception of India, a crisis management core group formed by the ministry of tourism has decided to meet on a regular basis. The group has decided to have its first formal interaction with the foreign media by month-end.

In recent months, India has seen few countries issuing advisories to their citizens against visiting India.

“This interaction aims to change misconceptions to positive perceptions,” said tourism minister Rathi Vinay Jha.

A senior official from the Hotel Association of India said, “After September 13 attack, Godhra riots and other violent activities, this year we see travel rising in full steam.”

“The Mumbai bomb blast only shook the perception for a while, but things returned to normal very soon,” he added.

An official from the Taj group of hotels says, “Room occupancy rates is in the level of 80-90 per cent. Though tourists from traditional destinations like North America, the UK and western Europe have definitely gone up, new markets like Russia and the South-East Asia are also opening up.”

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