The Centre is likely to shut seven of its14 overseas tourist offices, including ones in Paris, Amsterdam, Toronto and London. The overseas offices were set up under the Ministry of Tourism to position India as a preferred tourist destination and organise events to increase the country’s share in global tourism market.
Arguing that in today’s digital world, so many overseas offices were not required, Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons recently told The Indian Express: “The plan is to reshape these 14 offices into eight regional hubs for greater efficiency… The offices in Toronto and Los Angeles are the first ones to be wound up.”
The offices in Paris (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Milan (Italy), Sydney (Australia) and Johannesburg (South Africa) are also likely to shut shop.
The offices in New York (US), Beijing (China), Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), Dubai (UAE), Frankfurt (Germany) and London (UK), will continue to operate, while a new office is likely to come up in Moscow to cater to the increased tourist inflow from eastern Europe.
According to sources in the Tourism Ministry, the move follows an internal survey conducted by the Overseas Marketing Division in Delhi almost a year ago to assess the cost of running these overseas offices in comparison to the revenues they generating from the respective markets. The study had found that several offices as unprofitable.
As per data on the Ministry of Tourism website, it takes about Rs 4-5 crore per annum to run these offices. The move also seeks to streamline the complaints of financial and administrative lapses reported from these offices recently, sources said.
In December 2016, then Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma had told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that: “Based on allegations/ complaints/ audit observations, etc, received in the Ministry of Tourism against India Tourism Offices in Beijing, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, New York and Toronto, disciplinary proceedings have been initiated in cases where prima facie allegations were found to be substantiated.”