Meltdown-hit tourism sector exploring new areas, says minister


New Delhi : Tourism Minister Ambika Soni Tuesday said though the global meltdown has affected India’s tourism sector, it has also led to exploring new areas.

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“I am conscious of the fact that global meltdown has left us worried but not to that extent people may be thinking. The tourism sector in the country does not look dejected and depressed, rather we are looking for new potential areas,” Soni told reporters at the Economic Editors’ Conference in the capital.

Accepting that the meltdown would affect growth rate of the tourism sector, she said the industry is strong enough to withstand it.

The minister said while the traditional tourist inflow from the US and Britrain has been affected, efforts were on to promote Indian tourist spots in Asian and African countries.

“We have vibrant tourism services – from health tourism to rural tourism, pilgrimage tourism to adventure tourism. We have several plans in place to make us overcome the market slowdown and maintain our growth,” Soni said.

Providing details, she said tourism is a major engine of growth for Indian economy.

“In the year 2007, it contributed 6.23 percent to the gross domestic product, 8.78 percent of total employment in the country was in the tourism sector, generating about 53 million jobs, both direct and indirect.”

Describing India as a tourist destination for 365 days, Soni said: “The period January to October of the current year has recorded a total of 4.32 million foreign tourist arrivals, an increase of 9.4 percent as compared to the corresponding period last year, whereas foreign exchange earning during the same period saw an increase of 16.9 percent, touching the figure of $9.70 billion.”