Tour operators in the should tap the full tourism potential of the country and special focus was needed to bring more Chinese tourists, Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam said today.
Addressing the inaugural session of the four-day 34th annual convention of the Indian Association of TourOperators (IATO) here, he also suggested that the industry body be renamed Indian Association of Tour Ambassadors.
The Minister said despite special measures, only 2.47 lakh Chinese tourists visited India in 2017 and asked the IATO to play a major role in exploring the full potential and drawing more visitors.
Referring to the flood-hit Kerala, he said the state was ready in record time to welcome tourists thanks to the solidarity of its people.
"I salute the spirit of the Kerala people," he said appreciating the efforts of relief workers.
Even school and college students and civil servants from other states took part in the relief efforts, the minister said.
Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakmpally Surendran thanked everyone on behalf of the state government for helping in the rescue and rehabilitation of the people, who faced unprecedented floods in over a century last month.
Union Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma said tour operators should explore and promote new destinations across the country to attract more foreign tourists.
She said the country's full potential of tourism and hospitality sector has not yet been explored.
"It is time to explore and promote new tourist destinations to attract more number of foreign visitors who have been looking for new destinations, particularlyadventure and rural tourism," the official said appealing to the IATO to seek new places for the growth of the sector.
Noting that foreign tourist arrivals in the country crossed the 10 million mark in 2017, she said there was a lot of potential in the tourism sector to achieve the IATOs mission of 20 million tourists by 2020, though it was not an easy task.
IATO President Pronab Sarkar requested the union government to consider lower visa fee for attracting foreign tourists and have a rethink on GST on hoteland hospitality services.
Andhra Pradesh Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya said the state government had been focusing on promoting tourism by developing tourist destinations.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)