President stresses need to encourage domestic tourism

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Bangalore, Feb 2 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today stressed the need for encouraging domestic tourism in the country.

Speaking at a function organised to flag-off the 'Golden Chariot,' the luxury tourist train of Karnataka Tourism Department here, she said over 380 million domestic tourists visit various parts of the country every year and return with a better understanding of the people living in different regions. They have a better appreciation of the cultural diversity of India.

''We must encourage domestic tourism,'' she added.

Stating that tourism was an instrument for economic development and employment generation, particularly in remote and backward areas, she said 'Tourism also encourages preservation of monuments and heritage properties and helps in the survival of art forms, crafts and culture.'' Ms Patil said according to UN World Tourism Organisation, the number of international tourists has reached close to 900 million in 2007. ''This is a large number, accounting for almost one-sixth of humanity travelling in one year. There had been a remarkable growth in the recent years, in foreign tourist arrivals to India due to various efforts made, including promoting India through the 'Incredible India' campaign in overseas markets.'' ''Our endeavours in increasing the number of tourists to India must continue,'' she said.

Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur said Golden Chariot is the first-of-its-kind in the entire South India. The 18-coach luxury train would provide a greater fillip to the tourism industry in the south, particularly in Karnataka.

The Golden Chariot would offer the tourists a journey through the rich history, culture and natural beauty of Karnataka as well as an experience of the warmth and hospitality of the people of the State, he added.

Minister of State for Railways R Velu and Minister of State for Surface Transport and Highways K H Muniyappa and MP Ananthkumar were present during the flag-off of the Golden Chariot by the President.

UNI MSP MV VD HS1703

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