The government is taking a slew of measures to increase the number of tourists visiting India from China. The Tourism Ministry has planned roadshows, a dedicated tourist office, training Mandarin-speaking guides and hosting Chinese media in India for the purpose.
Tourism Minister K J Alphons, who is leaving for China on Tuesday, said, “Tourist arrivals from China will be our major focus area in the coming months. China sends out 144 million tourists in a year (as per their 2017 figures), while India gets only 2.5 lakh of those. This needs to change.” To turn around these figures, the ministry has set up a dedicated tourist office in Beijing, which, Alphons says, will be functional this month.
Alphons, during a recent interaction with reporters at Indian Women Press Corps, said, “India has planned roadshows in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou between August 28 and September 1,” adding that he is leaving for China on August 28 to participate in all the roadshows and hold meetings with stakeholders. “The target is to bring at least 10% of 144 million Chinese tourists in the next five years,” he added.
This is the second time within four months that the minister is visiting China, to focus on attracting tourists. In May, Alphons had visited Wuhan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference on tourism, and assessed the market personally. “I visited China under the Prime Minister’s instruction as it will be a major focus area to promote tourism,” he had said.
On the focus of the new tourism campaign, Alphons said, “There is a lot to see in India – monuments, UNESCO sites, national parks and wildlife. We will also upgrade tourism-related infrastructure in the Buddhist Circuit.”
Short promotional videos have been made in Mandarin to promote themes of Indian tourism – such as yoga, wildlife, ayurveda and luxury. Besides, the Buddhist Circuit is being highlighted in a big way, said a ministry official. Several Chinese journalists and lifestyle bloggers will also be hosted by the ministry for week-long stays in the course of the next year.
Sources in the ministry said the renewed push in tourism and cultural ties came in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal summit with President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in April. “With an aim to reset bilateral relations, the two countries are attempting to boost tourism and cultural ties,” said the source, adding that “India has upgraded its relationship with China from being a competitor to playing a host to the Chinese”.
During his earlier visit, “the minister (Alphons) noted that tour groups are India’s best bet to increase footfall from China”, said an official. India currently has less than 50 licensed Chinese-speaking tour guides, and the government plans to train more Mandarin-speaking qualified tour guides to lead these visiting groups.