Pointing out that the decision to set up the India Tourism Office in the Chinese capital had been taken as part of plan of action for India-China Friendship Year celebrations last year, she said such an initiative would strengthen bilateral relations between India and China and foster people to people contact.
Ms Soni asked local tour operators, travel agents and airlines representatives to increase the volume of traffic from China to India, which has several tourism products to offer, including special trains to Buddhist sites, new luxury trains and some exciting lesser-known tourist destinations.
Indian Ambassador to China Nirupma Rao and Indian Association of Tour Operators Vice-President Arun Anand also spoke on the occasion.
Ms Soni also inaugurated a photo exhibition by Ms Rita Zhao, the Chinese photographer who visited India during the Friendship Through Tourism Year.
To mark the opening of the office, the Tourism Ministry has planned an ''Incredible India Evening'' wherein the best of Indian culture and cuisine will be showcased. China National Tourism Authority Chairman Shao Qiwei will be the chief guest on the occasion.
India Tourism Office in Beijing is the 14th overseas office of India Tourism Department and is presently being headed by Acting Director R.S. Meena.
Earlier, Beijing had set up a China National Tourist Office in New Delhi in August last year.
The opening of India Tourism Office in Beijing is being viewed as a landmark event and is expected to infuse a new warmth in the bilateral ties, which have come under some strain on the Tibet issue.
Tourism in its initiatives to promote travel from China to India.
With 62,330 Chinese travellers visiting India in 2006, the number has seen a steady increase over the last four years from 21,152 tourists in 2003.The arrivals were mere 1371 in 1981.
China has emerged as one of the top 15 tourist generating markets for India and has a 1.4 per cent share in arrivals.
As part of the events, Tourism Secretary S. Banerjee is to travel to Shanghai to participate in the functions to be held there Wednesday.
The Culture Ministry, in association with Sangeet Natak Akademi, is putting up a special classical dance performance choreographed by Leela Samson in Beijing and Shanghai.
A team of five chefs each from ITDC will travel to Beijing and Shanghai to organise an 'India Food Festival' in the respective cities. It will be held at Beijing Hotel in Beijing from April 7 to 14 and in Shanghai from April 8 to 15.
The Tourism Ministry has initiated several programmes for promotion of tourism between China and India, including printing of tourism brochures and setting up of the "http://www.incredibleindia.org" website in Chinese language.
India also participated in the China International Travel Market held in Kunming in November 2007 and in the closing ceremony of the India China Friendship Year in January this year.