A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and the UAE will be signed in the coming months and a joint meeting of stakeholders from both the countries will take place before announcing a complete road map to double the two-way flow of tourists, India’s Minister of Tourism Subodh Kant Sahai said in Dubai.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7 during a road show organised to promote Indian tourism in the Middle East region, Sahai said the Indian Ambassador to the UAE N K Lokesh is working out details and modalities of the proposed MoU and will create an India-UAE Tourism Promotion Forum with representation from hotels and tour operators to double the inbound and outbound tourist flow from both the countries.
The road show kicked off from the Atlantis Hotel in which representatives from the travel trade, hotels, diplomats, government officials and media participated. The minister invited NRIs and business groups from the UAE to participate in tourism projects in India.
The tourism roadshow is being organised by India’s Ministry of Tourism with the support of Indian missions in the UAE. Indian Consul General in Dubai Sanjay Verma and other officials participated in the road show.
Tourism officials from Indian states like Rajasthan, Assam, Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand along with more than 15 tour operators, hotels and airlines showcased Indian tourist attractions at the road show.
“India receives around six million tourists per year and our target is to double the figure by 2015. We are trying to co-operate with the tourism departments of Gulf countries to increase the flow of tourists both ways,” he said.
There has been reasonable growth in the number of tourists reaching India from the Gulf and Middle East, especially from countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Turkey. Roadshows will be held in two other Middle East countries including Jordan.
Nearly 6.29 million tourists visited India in 2011, an 8.9 per cent growth over 5.78 million in 2010. Till May 2012, the country received about 2.8 million tourists, generating $7.297 billion in foreign exchange. The Indian tourism ministry’s target is to increase the country’s share in international tourist arrivals from 0.6 per cent to 1 per cent by 2016.
Tourism industry sources said after the ‘jasmine revolution’ and its accompanying violence in some Middle East countries, global tourists are on the look out for new cost-competitive destinations.
The visiting Indian minister said: “We are in need of 230,000 new hotel rooms, in addition to the more than 200,000 hotel rooms currently available in India. This needs private investment of about Rs400 billion.
According to the tourism promotion body India Tourism Dubai, India is poised to become a hub for medical tourism with excellent hospitals with latest medical technology, highly skilled Indian physicians and surgeons, lower cost of treatment and less waiting time for patients.
India’s traditional healthcare therapies like Ayurveda and Yoga can act as magnets for medical tourism, according to the tourism promotion agency.