The vast untapped economic potential of the tourism industry was at the heart of an impassioned pitch that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made in Manhattan, when he said to a select, distinguished gathering of Indian-American community leaders, opinion-shapers, and long-standing friends of India in the U.S. government, that tourism could generate income for taxi drivers, auto-rickshaw drivers and “even tea-sellers.”
Reiterating his support for a scheme that he had mentioned in an earlier conversation Mr. Modi said to the nearly 700 Indian-Americans at a star-studded dinner at the Taj Group’s Pierre Hotel overlooking Central Park that he did not need their dollars, rather he wanted every Indian-American to send five non-Indian friends to visit the country.
This way, even though India’s current achievements in the tourism sphere were relatively low, they could increase substantially to tap into a global market worth nearly $3 trillion globally, he argued, and this would also bring benefits per the axiom, “Terrorism divides, tourism unites.”
After the Prime Minister was introduced to the gathering by Indian Ambassador S. Jaishankar and delivered a short address, he took time to stand upon the stage for over an hour to personally greet every single attendee in the room.
Among those in attendance were Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, BJP functionary Ram Madhav, the RSS’ Sadhvi Rithambara, and numerous Congressmen including Tulsi Gabbard, Ami Bera, Jim McDermott, Joe Crowley, Ed Royce and Frank Pallone.
Several captains of industry were present including Indira Nooyi and Mukesh Ambani and Ajay Banga and so too prominent members of the Indian American community such as Vivek Murthy, Visakha Desai, Vikram Singh, Ashley Tellis, Arvind Subranayam, Nisha Desai, Arun Kumar, and Atul Keshap.