Union Culture and Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy on Wednesday said nearly 69 lakh foreign tourists visited India in 2022, indicating a four-fold increase in the number of arrivals after two years of negative growth during COVID-19 pandemic. Reddy was addressing the Tourism Working Group (TWG) meeting organised at the Tent City in Gujarat's Rann of Kutch as part of India's G20 presidency.
He said a 'National Tourism Mission' is also being formulated to ensure the digitalisation of the tourism sector in mission mode. "The world faced difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism sector in particular has been severely affected because of COVID-19. But, after two years of negative growth, India received approximately 6.9 million tourists from abroad in 2022. This is a four-fold increase in the number of arrivals to India," the minister said.
The increase in tourist inflow indicates that "our efforts for achieving resilient growth in tourism are progressing in the right direction," he said. This is the second G20 event in the state after the 'Business 20 Inception' programme held in Gandhinagar last month. More than 100 delegates from India and other participating countries are attending the first TWG meeting.
Reddy said the Ministry of Tourism, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is celebrating this year as 'Visit India 2023', focussing on inbound travel to India. "We have 40 UNESCO heritage sites, and we observe more than 1,000 festivals every year," he said.
During the last eight years, the country has built extensive tourism infrastructure to improve the tourism experience, he said. The central government has drafted a new tourism policy 2023, which provides a "paradigm shift in reimagining our tourism sector in India," Reddy informed the delegates from other countries. He said a 'National Tourism Mission' is also being formulated to ensure the digitalisation of the tourism sector in mission mode.
"As the first step, the ministry of tourism has set up a national integrated database of the hospitality industry. This is a technology driven system to facilitate digitalisation and promote ease of doing business for the hospitality and tourism sector," said the minister. To attract global and domestic investors and expertise, the ministry will organise the first Global Tourism Investment Summit in April 2023 in New Delhi, Reddy said.
"Also, we are going to organise a Tourism Expo to provide a platform to the industry and to facilitate interaction between buyers and sellers and for sharing of knowledge. The Ministry will also organise a global conference on MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism in May and an event on Adventure Tourism in June," said Reddy.
On the occasion, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel informed the guests that the state government is taking many steps to boost tourism. "After Gandhi Circuit and Buddh Circuit, we are now developing places which fall under Swami Vivekananda Tourist Circuit. Right before leaving for Chicago to address the World Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekananda had visited some places in Gujarat. We are developing those places under Vivekananda Circuit," he said.
During the day, working sessions will be held on five priority issues, namely green tourism, digitalisation, skills, tourism MSMEs and destination management, as per an official release.