|The Times of India|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 12, 2004 - NEW DELHI, India -- It couldn't have got better than this. The number of foreign tourists visiting India this year reached an all-time high of 29,83,453 -- up from 24,06,943 last year. Naturally, hotels are encashing on these good occupancy rates.
"It's not only Delhi, but other hot spots such as Goa, Kochi, Jaipur, Bangalore and Shimla which are showing increased business. As per indications, the surge will continue till February," says tourism minister Renuka Choudhury.
The reasons for this are manifold. Amitabh Kant, joint secretary, tourism ministry, says the successful launch of a very penetrative ad campaign -- Incredible India -- abroad bore fruit.
This, coupled with the open sky policy and good private-government partnership, is bringing back foreign tourists to India."
Gaurav Kant, director, sales, Radisson Hotels, says the 5,500 rooms in star category available in Delhi have a current occupancy rate of more than 80 percent. "Hotels are being swamped for business meetings, exhibitions and marriage parties." However, Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators, had a word of caution. "The tourist boom should not become a tourist doom.
Though the concerted efforts of the government are making India a favoured tourist destination, there are also reports that foreign tourists are stranded for lack of rooms. Hotels too have hiked their room tariffs to encash on the surge." Choudhury conceded this and says, "It's true there is a massive shortage of rooms; we need to invest heavily in constructing more hotels."
O P Mendiratta, Hotel Associations of Northern India, too says the supply of hotel rooms is not in proportion to the demand. No new star hotel is coming up in Delhi for now and four hotels earlier run by ITDC are yet to restart. "The government should encourage the construction of more star hotels keeping tourists in mind as well as the forthcoming Commonwealth Games."
Tourism minister Renuka Choudhury's new agenda will be to showcase Indian tourist destinations to the United States in February.
She had travelled extensively to Europe for the same. "Though tourists from Germany and Holland come to India for the massage therapy given by Kerala as a speciality, the United States market is different. So it needs to be targeted now," she says.
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