India sees spurt in tourist arrivals, but sanitation a concern


New Delhi : India is witnessing a spurt in foreign tourist arrivals, but there is a need to focus more on making destinations better and cleaner, union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay said Thursday.

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Inaugurating the second regional conference of tourism ministers of the northern and central states, Sahay said that India’s tourism sector is witnessing an encouraging growth with foreign tourist arrivals at 5.58 million in 2010.

“This was 9.5 percent higher than 2009. It is the endeavour of the ministry to enhance India’s share in the global tourism market up to 1 percent,” he said at the conference in Rishikesh in Uttarakhand.

Sahay also said that a rise has also been seen in domestic tourism. “It has risen to 650 million in 2009 which is an increase of 15.5 percent over 2008,” he added.

But, he expressed “major concern” about the condition of some of the destinations in India. “..hygiene and sanitary conditions at key tourism destinations are one of the major areas of concern”, a statement issued here quoted Sahay as saying.

He said the state governments have been requested to take up the issue of hygiene with the concerned departments and local bodies to improve the sanitary conditions.

The minister said the growth in tourism has also led to a gap in trained manpower in the hospitality sector and which they are trying to fill.

He also said that safety and security is one of the major concerns for the tourism sector. “State governments have been requested to be sensitive on safety issues and take all preventive action wherever required,” he added.

The meeting was attended by tourism ministers of Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while senior officials from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi were present.