Dec 16, 2008

Mktg - In 2009 Visit India Year, incentives for repeat visitors

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Travellers from abroad who visit India in 2009 will have a chance to get an extra sample of the country's exotic adventure tourism and sublime eco, rural and wellness tourism in 2010 and 2011 too.

The move, announced by Tourism Minister Ambika Soni Monday, is among many incentives offered to encourage repeat visitors to India.

The proposal came at a meeting of the National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC), held in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack and the global meltdown.

Soni, who chaired the meeting, said 2009 would be observed as the Visit India Year.

'The concept is that those who visit India in 2009 would thereafter experience India's rural tourism, eco tourism, adventure tourism, wellness tourism in specially worked out packages in 2010 and 2011,' a statement issued here said.

The tourism ministry in partnership with industry stakeholders will announce the details later, it said.

As the industry is facing a crunch in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, in which over 170 people including 26 foreigners were killed, as well as the global meltdown, the ministry announced special financial packages for the stakeholders.

Apart from fiscal support, the representatives from the hospitality and travel sectors and tour operators also sought tax relaxations and the infrastructure industry status of tourism, better connectivity and improved upkeep of national monuments.

To protect the industry from the global meltdown, the ministry proposed to increase the funds under its Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme.

Under the scheme, the ministry gives financial support to approved tourism service providers for undertaking tourism promotional activities abroad. Now, the amount has been enhanced.

Also, financial assistance will be given for participating in three international trade fairs in a year - up from two.

'The ministry will offer a subsidy of 25 percent in participation fee, to the travel trade and state governments for participation in the India Pavilions set up by the ministry or the India tourism offices overseas at major international travel fairs and exhibitions till the end of the financial year 2009-10,' the statement said.

The ministry will also give benefits to organisers of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) programmes, which have emerged as a substantially high component of growth inbound tourism.

The meeting also decided to form a committee of representatives of trade associations and officers of the concerned ministries to improve the visitor experience at important heritage monuments.

Another committee was formed to look into the civil aviation related issues like chartered flights.


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