How will the recent Tourism Awareness Programme help tourism in this country?
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has launched this programme for the entire region. But we are trying to promote India in every possible way.
Tourism is said to be the biggest industry in the next millennium. How will India benefit?
In many ways. More people are travelling which means infrastructure will have to be built to take care of that. One big market that India can focus on is people of Indian origin abroad. Everyone wants to know about their heritage and roots. If this market is focused on, there will be an automatic boost.
Do you agree that India has been unable to capitalise on its strengths?
One of the great strengths has been the golden triangle. But India hasn't promoted its beaches. You have to be like Disneyland. It was estimated that people would come to the place thrice in their lifetime. On an average, people visit it five times.
Should the tourism bodies here be brought under one umbrella?
One of the good things is that we work with the private and public sector. At a time like this, when there's a downturn, we tend to work together for a common objective.
Have the recent nuclear blasts scared potential tourists away?
If people keep talking about the nuclear testing, it does create a problem. People don't generally want to go to a place where a small thing could spark off a big problem.
What do you feel about unplanned development of tourist destinations?
We must have responsible tourism. We've initiated an environment protection plan.
In your meetings with the Indian government, what was the response?
I have had some very positive meetings. This government seems very pro-tourism.
This is your first visit to the country. Your impressions?
There is a very healthy environment here which needs to be communicated. The enthusiasm people have and the desire to make things better is amazing.
England is a primary market for India. Which other countries can we tap?
The US. Germany. India has plenty of good beaches and sun which Germans like.
How can India reverse the adverse publicity?
India must market its diversity which no other country has.
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