India holds road shows in Saudi Arabia to attract tourists

January 13th, 2012 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) To attract high-end tourists to some of its luxurious and exotic locales, India has held roadshows in three cities in Saudi Arabia, an official said here Friday.

The Jan 7-11 roadshows were organized in the cities of Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah and showcased the best known destinations of “Incredible India”.

The official said India is fast emerging as a “tourist destination” for Saudi nationals.

According to a statement issued here, about 4.5 million Saudis - representing nearly a quarter of the population - travelled abroad and spent about $33 billion last year.

The Indian delegation was led by Tourism Secretary R.H. Khwaja and included representatives of the tourism departments of Jammu and Kashmir and Maharashtra, members of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Air India, Jet Airways, Taj Group of Hotels and those of medical and wellness groups.

Jammu and Kashmir Tourism and Culture Minister Nawang Rigzin Zora and Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani were part of the delegation. Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao was also present at one of the shows in Riyadh.

The highlight was on the medical and wellness tourism potential of India.

“The focus was on India’s vast potential as a health and wellness tourism destination. India has best medical facilities and world-class doctors. Apart from that the ancient healing systems such as ‘Ayurveda’ and other rejuvenating programmes are also offered,” a statement issued here said.

It was highlighted that the cost of medical services in India is almost 30 percent lower than in western countries and is most cost effective in the region, the statement added.

What makes India the ideal destination is that apart from the high-end medical technology and cost-effective surgeries in various fields, India is barely four hours away by flight, making it easier for patients to visit even for follow-up. “This means unmatched proximity and value-for-money,” the statement added.

At the road show, the focus was also on popular train journeys catering to high-end travellers and showcasing some of India’s best known destinations. In this category ‘The Palace on Wheels’, ‘Royal Rajasthan on Wheels’, ‘The Deccan Odyssey’ and ‘the Golden Chariot’ were showcased.

The official said that in 2010, there has been an increase of nearly 38 percent in the inbound tourist from Saudi Arabia to India with around 20,000 tourists visiting here.

The visa issuance figures of the Indian mission indicate a similar high growth in the year 2011, the official added.

Foreign tourist arrivals to India witnessed a steady increase over the years, touching 6.29 million in 2011, an increase of 8.9 percent over 2009, the official said.

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