JAIPUR, India - The fifth edition of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar 2012 (GITB) commenced on Sunday with great fanfare.
The presence of centre and state government representatives along with foreign participants was evidence of the growing magnitude of the event. The two-day GITB is organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and FICCI.
Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister of Tourism, Government of India, on the inaugural day released two knowledge papers on indigenous tourism and religious tourism, a joint initiative by FIand YES Bank. He said time had come when developing tourism in India should become a priority. "We should look at doubling our inbound tourism and aim at bringing to the country 5 million tourists by 2017."
"Inbound tourism has great potential and can grow at a rate of 12%. For this the ministry is relying on two strategies. The first relates to revenue generation activities and second is developing the infrastructure," remarked the Union Tourism Minister. We require 20 lakh hotel rooms to accommodate our foreign tourists and this will also open new opportunities of investment and employment generation, he said.
"A tourism development forum has also been set up for understanding the needs and grievances of the tourism industry and based on these the ministry will develop its tourism campaigns," said Kant.
Speaking on the occasion, Bina Kak, state minister for tourism said, "Research, cooperation, conversion and innovation are the four key factors that can enhance the Indian tourism industry. This year 7,670 B2B meetings are already scheduled for the next two days of the event. The numbers themselves speak volumes about the success of GITB."
Kak mentioned some of the government's initiatives to promote the tourism industry, one of the most important being that tourism has been identified as an industry and hence can avail of all concessions that an industry is entitled to and entertainment tax has been completely waived off.
The platinum sponsor of the event, Dr Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson, FICCI Tourism Committee and Chairperson & Managing Director, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said, "So many events are taking place but the kind of success and growth that GITB has seen is unprecedented. The event this year is witnessing the presence of 54 countries. Now the time has come when we should emerge in the domestic tourism sector strongly."
R V Kanoria, President, FICCI, said, "Rajasthan is one of the finest tourist destinations in India and state government has initiated several policies to support the cause of promoting tourism. A large contingent of participants, both national and international, is showcasing the potential for growth of tourism industry. We hope that all stakeholders have fruitful and successful business partnerships over the next two days."