Union Tourism Ministry has taken various steps, including introduction of e-Tourist Visa, to promote tourism and enhance earnings from the sector, Rajya Sabha was informed today.
In a written reply, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said his ministry operates various schemes through which Central Financial Assistance (CFA) is provided to states/union territories for overall development and promotion of tourism.
Besides, he said, the Ministry promotes India as a holistic destination in the international markets.
As part of its promotional activities, the Tourism Ministry releases campaigns in the international markets under the Incredible India brand line to showcase various tourism destinations and products including its cultural heritage, the Minister said.
Moreover, a series of promotional activities are being undertaken in tourist generating markets overseas through the India Tourism Offices abroad with the objective of showcasing India's tourism potential and promoting tourism.
These promotional activities, he said, include participation in travel fairs and exhibitions, organising road shows, Know India seminars and workshops and organising and supporting Indian food and cultural festivals.
He said Tourism Ministry provides financial assistance to stakeholders and Tourism Department of states/union territories for undertaking promotional activities under the Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) scheme.
The government has also introduced the facility of e-Tourist Visa for the citizens of 113 countries at 16 airports. "Introduction of e-Tourist Visa is a path breaking measure by the Government in easing formalities in the country," he said.
The Minister also said the government has also revised the e-Tourist Visa fee in four slabs from November 3 this year.
To another query, Sharma said as per the 2nd Tourism Satellite Account of India (TSA) 2009-10 and subsequent estimation, the contribution of tourism to total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 were 6.77 per cent, 6.76 per cent, 6.76 per cent and 6.88 per cent respectively.
Under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, Maharashtra government has submitted proposals --Sindhudurg Coastal Circuit and Development of Adasa, Dhapewada, Paradsingha religion circuit-- for consideration, he said while answering another question.