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India to boost tourism using Commonwealth Games

By Aroonim Bhuyan, IANS,

Dubai : India is going to exploit the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi to boost tourism in a big way, Minister of State for Tourism Kanti Singh said here Tuesday.

“We are looking at the 2010 Commonwealth Games to boost our tourism industry in a big way,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2008 tourism exhibition.

“Leading up to the event, we are focusing on increasing the number of hotel rooms in the country significantly,” she said after inaugurating the Indian pavilion at ATM 2008.

Observing that the government has extended a five-year tax rebate to the tourism sector, she said her ministry was laying great stress on promoting India as a monsoon and medical tourism destination.

“We all know medical treatment in India can be done at a fraction of the cost compared to other parts of the world. That is why we are promoting this sector besides starting a new campaign for monsoon tourism,” Singh told IANS.

Joint Secretary in the tourism ministry E.K. Bharat Bhushan said monsoon tourism is a new offering from India Tourism.

“We are attracting people for monsoon tourism and Kerala is a major destination for this,” he said.

Apart from this, religious tourism in India is also being promoted.

“The Cheraman Mosque in Kerala, which was built in 600 AD, is a good example. Similarly we will promote temples, churches and synagogues which have great historical value,” Bhushan said.

Pointing out that the Gulf is a big market for the Indian tourism industry, he said 120,000 tourists from the region visited India in 2007.

“Of this, around 60,000 came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) alone,” he said.

A total of 31 participants from India, including the state tourism boards of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala, have put up stalls at the three-day ATM 2008, the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism event, which got under way Tuesday.

This year’s event has the largest exhibitor base of 2,208 participants from 70 countries – an eight percent increase on the 2007 edition.

Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of the event, said floorspace bookings from international representatives in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa had grown by 10 percent, with Middle East companies increasing their allocation by five percent.

“The increased regional and international exhibitor participation is a clear indication of this market’s expansion,” Richard Mortimore, managing director of Reed Travel Exhibitions, said in a statement.

“The diversification of the products and services on display further underlines the industry’s growing dynamism and competitiveness,” he added.