The Indian government is considering ways to make it easier for foreign visitors to book accommodation in the country, including offering discounted rates, a government official said on Wednesday.
The move is in line with a government plan to boost tourist spending in the coming year and could be a way to improve the country’s image abroad, Tourism Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in an interview with India Today.
“We are considering a number of ways to enhance our image, and this includes opening up opportunities for international tourists.
It may not be a perfect solution, but it is an option we are looking at,” Mr Naidusaidu told India Today, adding that the ministry is finalising the details.
He said the ministry would also be taking steps to boost domestic tourism, which was a mainstay of the countrys economy in the years ahead.
“I don’t think it is a matter of just giving discounts,” he said.
India’s tourism sector is India’s largest, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of its GDP.
Tourism contributes nearly a quarter of its annual economic output.
Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange for the Indian economy and accounts for around one-third of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in the economy.
It is estimated that about 50 per cent to 70 per cent a tourist stays in a hotel, which is also the biggest source of indirect foreign investment.
Indian authorities have already opened up tourist booking services, allowing foreign visitors into India for a reduced fee, and a new website has been launched to give foreign tourists a more comprehensive view of the travel options available in India.
A survey by Tourism India last year showed that nearly half of the Indians surveyed were planning to go abroad in the next two years.