Economic slowdown not to affect flow of inbound tourists : Soni

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New Delhi, Nov 25 (UNI) Amid reports predicting a decline in foreign tourist arrivals to India as a fallout of the global economic meltdown, Tourism Minister Ambika Soni today said "it has left us worried but the impact will not be to the extent it is forecast." "The Tourism sector will achieve a growth of 12 to 14 per cent against the projected 15 per cent," she said, while addressing the "Economic Editors' Conference." She said the ministry was hopeful of sustaining the growth in the tourism sector because the country was offering a variety of tourism products, coupled with its high-voltage Incredible India campaign.

Ms Soni said though there would be a fall in the tourist traffic from the West, it would be compensated by the good response from West Asia.

"We have also made definite inroads into South Asia and South East Asia." The minister said tourism had been growing in India in the last five years, recording a double digit growth. As many as 5.08 million foreign tourists visited India in 2007, marking a growth of 14.2 per cent over 2006.

"This growth rate is more than the world growth figure of tourist arrivals which stood at 6.6 per cent and that of Asia Pacific Region which stood at 10.4 per cent." In terms of international tourism receipts, India had performed exceptionally well by recording earnings of 10.73 billion US dollars during 2007, thereby marking a growth of 24.3 per cent as compared to 2006.

"Here again India exceeded the world growth rate whcih was 15.4 per cent and also that of Asia Pacific whcih was 8.78 per cent." In this context, she said the rank of India in international arrivals and toruism receipts rose to the 42nd and 20th place respectively from 51st and 37th.

Ms Soni said domestic tourism visits in India had been increasing with the figure touching 527 million in 2007 from 309 million in 2003.

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