Govt to invest Rs 500 cr for developing 20 tourist destinations

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Jaipur, Apr 21 (UNI) In a bid to promote India as a travel hub and reach the 10-million tourist mark by 2010, the government will invest Rs 500 crore for development of 20 tourist destinations and circuits over the next 2-3 years.

''We will invest Rs 25-50 crore for developing tourist destinations and circuits. This will include maintenance of facilities like sanitation, connectivity, hotels, dormitories and also publicity,'' Union Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni told reporters at the 'FICCI Great India Travel Bazaar' here.

She added that 20 such destinations have been identified, which includes Ajmer, Bodh Gaya (Rs 19 crore sanctioned), Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Hampi, Banaras, Dwarka, Ganga Heritage Cruise (circuit), Aurangabad and Mahabalipuram.

The development of a circuit, which is a cluster of three destinations connected to each other, will receive about Rs 50 crores.

The Tourism Ministry is also in discussion with the Railway and Civil Aviation Ministry for easy connectivity to these sites.

The government will develop these 20 mega projects through a public-private partnership mode and overseas investors will be allowed to invest upto 100 per cent equity on repatriation basis in hotel and tourism related projects, Ms Soni said.

''We have also announced five-year income tax holiday for two, three or four-star category hotels and convention centres. Income tax holiday for the same time period has also been announced for two, three or four-star star category hotels that are established in specified districts which have UNESCO declared world heritage sites,'' the Minister said.

The country received five million foreign tourists in 2007, which churned a revenue of 12 billion dollars. The outbound traffic has also increased to 8.34 million with Indian tourists travelling to overseas destinations in 2006.

UNI PDT BJR BST1507

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