Minister calls for push to tourism involving Japan

New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) There is a need to increase Japan-involved tourism in the country, said Culture and Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on Monday.

“A lot of Indians visit Japan. Similarly, a lot of Japanese tourists come to India, but we need to increase Japan-involved tourism,” the minister said speaking at the “India-Japan Tourism Programme” here.

Quoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s belief in tourism being the future of India, he said: “Tourism can increase the scope of everything, be it employment generation, agriculture or women empowerment.”

He also said that the relations with Japan are as old as six centuries, as Lord Buddha carried Buddhism forward from India to Japan.

“We value our relations with Japan. We specially invite our Japanese friends to come here and participate in helping us create a new hotel industry. We are still short of 2,90,040 rooms. We need to have investment and participation for development of tourism in the country,” the minister said.

“We are trying to address all the issues related to tourism whether it is infrastructure, cleanliness or safety and security of our tourists. We at government level are doing all efforts to ensure all facilities for them,” he added.

According to Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, India and Japan are very well connected but there is always a space for more.

“The two countries have had excellent relations and there hasn’t been any hostility or animosity between the two countries, and thus, there is a good scope of tourism exchange,” he said.

“India is the largest economy in the world whereas Japan is the most prosperous one. The number of tourists going to Japan from India or the vice versa is very less. It is a matter of shame for us,” Billa said, adding: “Most Indians tend to have a misconception about Japan that it is a very expensive country. We need to change this perception.”

Referring to the fewer number of Indian tourists to Japan, Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said: “Around 80,000 people visited Japan in 2015 and near about 1.2 million Indian tourists went to the US.

“India is growing in the field of economy and also otherwise. I see a huge potential. And, the number can increase to five times of the previous year’s figures. In the framework of Indo-Japan Tourism, I wish to see things improve in a visible way.”

–IANS

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