In spite of foreign tourist inflow adversely hit in aftermath of 26/11 terror attack and economic slowdown, the foreign exchange earning from the sector has witnessed a three per cent increase this year, Union Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed has said.
Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTA) declined since November 2008 Mumbai terror attack and was further affected by the economic downturn. Despite the fall, foreign exchange earning for the period January to September this year was Rs 37,589 crore as against Rs 36,464 crore in previous year during the same period, Mr. Ahmed told PTI.
The minister said the slump in the tourism sector is showing a reversal in the trend.
The FTA during September, 2009 was 3.17 lakh, which is 4.1 per cent less compared to 3.31 lakh during the corresponding month of 2008. Also, the total FTA between January to September 2009 was 35.75 lakh as against 38.71 lakh during the same period in 2008, he said.
“However, an improvement has been observed in recent months,” the minister said.
Mr. Ahmed said the Centre is concentrating on niche tourism products which included Heliport Tourism aimed at promoting tourism in hilly and remote areas.
“Guidelines will be framed to provide Central assistance to states for construction of heliports at selected places which have tourism potential but lack connectivity,” he said.
Two heliports had already been sanctioned at Mangan and near Geetam Khola waterfall in Sikkim, the minister said, adding that both the projects are scheduled for completion in two years.
The Centre, Mr. Ahmed said, had sanctioned Rs 984.81 crore for 570 tourism projects in different states for creation of world class facilities.
On reforms planned in the tourism sector, Mr. Ahmed said the Tourism ministry is aiming at improving the quality of hospitality service.