New Delhi 29th June 2016. U.S. Ambassador Richard R. Verma said that if the right investments are made, tourism in India has the potential to support 46 million jobs by 2025.
The US Ambassador was speaking at the Tourism Conference organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) . Air connectivity and infrastructure development, such as road connectivity, public transit, restaurants, hotel space, as well as a focus on sanitation and safety hold key to tourism development, ambassador said, adding that capacity building and good customer service are also key to bring about qualitative changes in the tourism sector in India.
Verma revealed that in 2015, the United States was India’s largest source of foreign tourists. Over 1.2 million American visitors came to India, accounting for 15% of total foreign travelers. The e-Tourist visa program has also been an immense success. Visitors from the United States were among the top users of the e-Tourist program.
As against this, the United States received more than one million Indian visitors, who contributed nearly $11 billion to the American economy. The number of Indians visiting the United States annually has doubled since 2009. “ Last year the number of Indian students in the United States reached 130,000, the highest number ever,” he added.
Dwelling on the US policy on tourism, Verma said that President Obama recognizes the importance of travel and tourism to grow the American economy. The Administration has set a goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors annually by 2021 through the National Travel and Tourism Strategy.
The Ambassador said that the U.S. and India has agreed to become Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017. This partnership will further support U.S.-India trade in travel and tourism services and people-to-people exchanges. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will be in India for the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in August this year and help take this initiative forward. “ Her extensive experience in the hospitality sector will provide invaluable input as we develop a new framework for our cooperation on travel and tourism,” he added
“Ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate India’s participation in the Global Entry program, marking a significant milestone for tourism and aviation security. Global Entry will expedite travel for pre-approved, low-risk air travelers to the U.S. once they have applied and been approved for the Global Entry program. We are currently working on the technical arrangements to bring this program online for Indian travelers,” ambassador revealed.
“ The announcement last week of 100 percent FDI in the civil aviation sector was a step in the right direction. I’ve seen first-hand the economic impact that regional connectivity brings to communities throughout India and its great potential to create opportunities for both business and skill development. We also welcome India’s commitment to sustainable aviation through its pledge to limit CO2 emissions in coordination with the International Civil Aviation Organization,” Verma underlined.
The ambassador said that In 2015, for the first time in history, the U.S. Mission in India processed more than 1 million non-immigrant visa applications in a single year. “We are proud of this milestone, and of the message that it sends: the United States is open for business and tourism and is committed to an efficient, fair, and transparent visa process,” he said.