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Chiranjeevi stresses on improving facilities at major pilgrimage centres

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ETW STAFFNew Delhi

Union tourism minister K Chiranjeevi has said that safety of tourists, particularly for foreign women tourists, is an area of concern. Chairing the meeting of National Tourism Advisory Council in New Delhi recently he said that a few recent incidents, where foreign women tourists were sexually assaulted, have generated widespread negative publicity for India. K Chiranjeevi said, “As law and order is a state subject, I have written to all chief ministers to take effective steps to create conducive and friendly atmosphere for all tourists.”

The tourism minister said the tourism sector in India has witnessed substantial growth in the last decade. The Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during 2012 have reached 6.58 million. The estimated number of domestic tourist visits in 2012 was 1027 million. He added, “Although the growth of in-bound tourism in India has been higher than the overall growth in the world, the share of India at 0.64 per cent continues to be low. We have to strive harder to increase this share.”

The minister was of the opinion that huge size of domestic tourism helps to sustain the Indian tourism industry even when there is negative or low growth in inbound tourism. He said, “We will, therefore, continue to promote domestic tourism also.” Referring to religious tourism he said a substantial component of domestic travel is for pilgrimages. There is a need to enhance amenities and facilities at our major pilgrimage centres. Uttarakhand, which is visited by a large number of pilgrims, has witnessed widespread damage in recent floods. He said, “As you may be aware, ministry of tourism has sanctioned a special financial package of INR 100 crore for restoration and reconstruction of the affected government tourist facilities in Uttarakhand. This will be in addition to the Central Financial Assistance of about INR 95 crore already sanctioned during the current financial year for developing tourism infrastructure in the state.”

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