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London, Delhi join hands to promote tourism


New Delhi : Delhi and London Monday cemented their multi-faceted ties by signing two pacts on promoting tourism and enhancing cooperation in diverse areas between the two cities.

A partnership agreement was signed by London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to enhance the ongoing bilateral cooperation. The agreement was signed at Dikshit’s office.

A memorandum of understanding on promoting tourism and enhancing cooperation in the area was signed by James Bidwell, chief executive of Visit London, the city’s central agency for promoting tourism, and Sanat Kaul, chairman and managing director of Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation Ltd.

The two cities signed the agreement in front of a 14 metre-high replica of London’s Big Ben at Connaught Place in the heart of the city.

“Today’s celebration of Delhi and London’s partnership through the signing of this new agreement and the tourism MoU demonstrates our commitment to work together. I welcome the economic, social and cultural opportunities that these new ties will bring to both capital cities,” London Mayor Livingstone said.

“The cities have a lot to learn from each other in the fields of transport, environment, planning and the features of city development,” the mayor added.

“We want more Indians to come to visit London and see the huge number of attractions that the capital offers,” he said.

“Likewise, I hope that many Londoners will choose to visit India to see the many cultural offerings that we recently showcased during our recent India Now celebrations in London,” he added.

“London and Delhi are linked together in many ways from business to culture to history. In the future, both cities face common opportunities and challenges from hosting great sporting events to combating climate change,” Dikshit said.

“I am sure working together our shared experience will only benefit our two great cities,” she stressed.

“We also share the unique excitement of staging major sporting events that have the power to transform our tourism industries – the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012,” Bidwell said.

In 2006, 230,000 Indians went to London, spending 152 million pounds, overtaking Japan to become the biggest spenders from the Asian market.

“Indians spend twice the average number of days spent by a tourist in London,” said Bidwell.

Bidwell also offered to share with Delhi experiences in promoting London and nurturing the city as a top tourist destination. London attracts 15 million tourists every year, which is over four times more than what the whole of India gets.

“The London community is ethnically diverse. There is a lot of interest among Londoners in Indian culture and cuisine,” Bidwell said, adding that India has a huge tourism potential that needs to be harnessed through requisite infrastructure building.