Flashback 2015: Tourist arrivals up, forex earnings went down

New Delhi, Dec 31: With 113 countries availing e-visa facility, Tourism Ministry boasted of attracting over 8 lakh foreign tourists in 2015.

Despite the number of inbound tourists going up steadily in 2015, Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma attracted attention for not so positive reasons as the development over Dadri incident and Nehru Memorial kept him busy for a considerable period.

Flashback 2015: Tourist arrivals went up

There were about 8.15 lakh foreign tourists till November as against 7.65 lakh for the corresponding period last year, a growth of 6.5 per cent.

However, foreign exchange earnings from tourism witnessed a decline. Government earned Rs 11,610 crore forex till November as against Rs 12,988 crore for the same period last year, a decrease of 10.6 per cent.

"The perception about tourism in India in the world scenario changed in the last year and the positive results are expected to be fructified in the coming days with a significant rise in the inbound tourists to various destinations in the country," Sharma told PTI.

He said a new tourism policy aiming at robust growth in the sector is likely to be unfolded shortly.

"We are in the process of finalisation of the policy and it will be out soon. Aim is to make robust growth in the sector expanding the horizon," he said, adding "our aim is to attract one per cent share of world tourist arrivals."

On the culture front, he said, "We tried to showcase India's rich heritage and culture to the international audience."

Defending the change of director in Nehru Memorial, he said, "There were some irregularities committed by the previous government and we tried to set it right.

"The previous government appointed a person on a holiday on May 14. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cleared the file, 48 hours before he demitted office. Why didn't they complete this exercise a month before demitting office," he asked, adding, "The irregularity has been done by the Congress."

Rangarajan resigned on September 17 and the government accepted his resignation. On controversies like Dadri and returning of awards by writers and artistes, Sharma blamed his political rivals for engineering these before Bihar elections.

"Now with elections over, these things are also over. So all these things were done by them before Bihar polls." He said 113 countries have got e-visa facilities and the number will reach 150 shortly.


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