India to simplify visa process to attract more tourists

February 29th, 2008 - 1:03 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) India plans to simplify its visa procedure to further increase the tourists inflow to the country and promote it as the best tourist destination. “We recognise the importance of efficient and courteous services. We are taking steps to facilitate tourism and for this we are simplifying our procedure and fast-track the issuance of visa,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Wednesday.

While giving away 58 awards to various institutions and organisations including the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Sikkim for their outstanding contributions in promoting tourism, Mukherjee said: “We are setting up a digital data management system too.”

For this, he said, close coordination among various state governments and departments would be needed and this should be done as quickly as possible to make India a world-class tourist destination.

“Let us all vow to transform the theme of ‘Incredible India’ into the theme of ‘Irresistible India’,” he added.

Referring to the Commonwealth Games 2010 to be held in New Delhi, he said: “It is very good time for us as 52 nations will participate in it and a large number of people will come here.”

He also called for building world-class infrastructure, which could cater to both domestic and international tourists.

Quoting the World Tourism Travel Council, he said: “They have recognised India as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world.

“We have seen handsome growth in this sector. About five million tourists came to India last year and this has resulted in the largest contribution to the exchequer,” he added.

Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said, “$12 billion were deposited in the country’s exchequer by the department.”

Praising Mukherjee, she said, “He has directed his consul staff to immediately clear the visas and also directed them that if there was any problem the job should be outsourced.”

Among those who received the 2006-07 awards were the states of Andhra Pradesh for infrastructure development for promotion of tourism, Chettinad in Tamil Nadu for best rural tourism project and hotels like the Oberoi Amarvilas in Uttar Pradesh and Taj Residency in Karnataka.

Three chefs, including Sanjeev Kapoor, and tour operators were also honoured with awards under various categories.

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