The Telegraph
Thursday , July 9 , 2015

Uzbek tourism goof

New Delhi, July 8: A government report claiming a surge in tourists from countries Narendra Modi has visited over the past year mentions a 49.5 per cent jump from Uzbekistan - a nation where he landed only two days ago.

The tourism ministry's report was used as a reference for minister Mahesh Sharma's speech at a conference of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) here today. "Our PM's visits abroad are helping promote India as a tourist destination. People from countries where he has gone are getting more interested in exploring our nation," Sharma told the meet.

According to the report, 8,903 tourists from Uzbekistan visited India between January and June 2015 compared to 5,955 in the same period last year. The Prime Minister arrived in the central Asian country on Monday and flew out yesterday.

The report, titled "Nation wise foreign tourism arrivals after PM's visits" lists 10 countries. The others include the US, Brazil, Myanmar, Fiji, Germany and Canada. The list compares tourist arrivals from these countries in the first six months of 2014 and 2015.

Asked about Uzbekistan, Sharma said: "We will get it corrected." He added, however, that the data "would be used later".

The Uzbekistan goof-up may have been caused by some "overzealous" officials of the marketing research section of the tourism ministry, multiple sources said.

"The minister (Sharma) had asked the market research wing to compile data on tourist arrivals from countries the Prime Minister has visited in the past year," a senior official close to the minister said.

The official then appeared to pass the buck to other departments.

"These data are based on nationality-wise figures from the Bureau of Immigration and the RBI's foreign exchange earnings numbers. However, those who prepared the report mentioned Uzbekistan even though the Prime Minister has gone there only now. "

A source pointed out that the report was misleading on other aspects, too. For instance, it mentions only half the countries Modi has visited, dropping those nations that have not sent more tourists to India during the period despite being on the list of the Prime Minister's trips. These include China, Mongolia and Australia.

The dossier also seems to gloss over some other inconvenient truths. One of them relates to the overall slump in the number of foreign women tourists, a trend that started with the December 2012 Delhi bus gang rape but which has continued till now.


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