The country, often criticised for inadequate accommodation and security, poor connectivity and cumbersome visa facilities, on Tuesday evening won two honours at the World Tourism Mart (WTM) in London.
Pitted against Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Switzerland and many other hot spots in the US and Europe, India clinched the ‘Best Destination’ and ‘Best Marketing Campaign’ awards from World Travel Awards chairman Graham Cooke. India was rated highly on wellness, medical tourism and sustainable eco-tourism models in the rural areas.
Encouraged by the awards and the growing appreciation, tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay immediately announced the launch of the country’s first global travel mart on the lines of the WTM on December 12.
Sahay said: “These awards will go a long way in realising our targets for the next five years. We hope to double the total foreign arrivals by 2016 to ensure that India contributes at least 1 per cent to the global tourist numbers. Currently, India just gets 0.59 per cent of the total global tourists.”
The minister said: “The government needs to construct four lakh hotel rooms to meet the demand. We need rooms for all budgets and airports for world-class connectivity.”
While giving away the awards, Cooke echoed Sahay. He said: “With investments in the next two years, India hopes to break into the top 10 for the first time, surpassing the likes of Australia, Switzerland and South Africa.”