New Delhi: India should aim to attract seven crore tourists annually, up from 70 lakh at present, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday while stressing on the need to make the country a low-cost tourist destination with modern infrastructure and a larger number of inbound flights.
Jaitley said a huge potential exists in tourism sector, which helps in generating jobs and earn foreign exchange.
He also said that states can play an important role in the formulation of tourism policy, which the government is working on to make India a more tourist-friendly destination.
"The country has huge potential in the tourism sector. Today about 70 lakh tourists come to India... We have to make the country a low-cost tourism destination," Jaitley said here while the foundation laying ceremony of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Paryatan Bhavan.
The new complex would come up at an investment of around Rs 125 crore and would be completed in two years time.
Jaitley asked Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma, who was also present at the event, to set up a bigger target of attracting seven crore tourists to India and also open offices in the countries from where large number of tourists come.
Talking about the tourism infrastructure, Jaitley said the government is working on modernising the airports and on improving the highways and railways network.
"More and more flights should come to India so that tourists come to India... We are working in that direction. There is a need to increase it by five to ten times," he said.
India also needs to explore the ships and cruise segment as a lot of tourists are travelling to different countries through that medium, the minister said, while adding there is a huge requirement of budget hotels in the country.
"We need to increase tourists flow in the country and to increase that there is a need of modern tourism infrastructure," he said.
He said there is a large number of tourist attractions in the country including famous monuments, religious centres, forests and mountains.
Talking about the new Paryatan Bhavan, the minister said it would have state-of-the-art facility and would become a major centre for tourists-related activities.
Jaitley also hit out at the previous governments, saying that no government worked for this sector in the last 68 years and their policies have rather adversely impacted the tourist arrivals in the country.