India plans strategy to woo China's 144 million tourists

India plans strategy to woo China's 144 million tourists

India is revamping its tourism strategy in China, including opening of a full-fledged regional tourist office here headed by a top bureaucrat, as it pitches for attracting a good chunk of the country’s 144 million tourists.

China will now have an India Tourism Office which will be headed by an IAS or IFS officer. It will also have a strategy advisor besides a public relations agency to launch campaigns, Minister of State for Tourism K J Alphons said here.

The regional director will be assisted by a strategy advisor and a PR group to woo Chinese tourists. A similar office will also be established in New York, he said.

India for long had an office of the tourism ministry known as the Incredible India Tourism Office in Beijing.

But it remained headless for over a year till 2016 and later apparently, it was shutdown, even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended e-visa facility to Chinese tourists during his visit here 2015.

Alphons is currently touring China to explore possibilities to attract more Chinese tourists to India.

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Despite big campaigns and e-visa facilities, only 2.40 lakh Chinese tourists visited India last year against 14 lakh Indians who visited China. Countries all over the world are making a big pitch for attracting Chinese tourists as their numbers have crossed 144 million last year, the highest in the world.

It is just enough for India to get 10 per cent of Chinese tourists in five years which could be about 14 lakh, Alphons said.

Alphons said he is in China to find out why more Chinese are not visiting India despite various measures.

Yesterday, he attended a big road show held by his ministry and the Indian Embassy here. He will attend similar events at Wuhan and Shanghai.

India has all basic things like good hotels with food and water facilities. India has a very large number of Chinese restaurants though some of them are spicy, Alphons said.

Tourism from China to India is not picking up also because of lack of campaigns, he said.

He denied that campaigns like the Buddhist circuit for Chinese travellers failed to work.

“Buddhist circuit never worked because we never had the infrastructure built in that. If we have infrastructure they will come,” he said. The new infrastructure included six-lane highways which will be ready in two years.

For Chinese tourists, there are 38 Mandarin-speaking guides, he said.