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Focus on royal tourism, says Raje

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, NOV. 17. The immense potential for promotion of tourism in India and building world class infrastructure to attract foreign tourists was highlighted during a three-day international conference on "India: Tourism and heritage'', which began here today.

The conference has been organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Union Ministry of Tourism, with South Africa as the partner country. The commonalities between the two nations were also highlighted on the occasion.

South Africa's Minister, Thaba Alfred Mufamadi, addressing the gathering in the inaugural session, affirmed that the bilateral agreement on tourism would promote exchanges between the two countries and encourage investment in tourism sector. The agreement also provides for daily flights between the two nations.

Mr. Mufamadi said the towering personalities of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela had symbolised the commonalities between India and South Africa, both of which had been subjected to colonial oppression and cultural imperialism. He said the people of the two countries had strong roots in their culture.

The Rajasthan Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, said the State Government had taken a number of measures for promoting tourism, while the rich heritage of the desert State and its forts, palaces and sand dunes had always attracted tourists. The colourful fairs and festivals also served as important occasions for tourists' participation.

Ms. Raje pointed out that Rajasthan attracted 48 per cent of the total foreign tourists till September this year, with 60-lakh foreign tourists and 1.29-crore domestic tourists visiting the State. She said the State Government had already doubled its budget for tourism during 2004-05.

While making an appeal to find specialised avenues, such as royal tourism and spiritual tourism, Ms. Raje said the State Government planned to build international airports in Jaipur and Udaipur, upgrade museums, restore the Amber Fort near the State capital and encourage film shootings at historical locations.

The CII president, Sunilkant Munjal, said the industries would support the Government's drive to attract tourists and offered the assistance by CII's global network in the renewed efforts in tourism sector. He said the world heritage sites and thousands of historical monuments situated in India would always attract international travellers.

The conference chairman, Gaj Singh -- belonging to the erstwhile ruling family of Jodhpur -- stressed the need to promote public-private partnership in the tourism sector, while the chairman of CII's national committee on tourism and heritage, S.S.H. Rehman, said the conference would throw up fresh ideas and creative solutions.

About 300 delegates, including experts from foreign countries, are attending the event, which would focus on new initiatives and solutions to deal with the long-standing problems relating to tourism. The participants will also discuss the utility of new tourism products and examine various aspects of human resource, infrastructure and aviation vis-a-vis tourism promotion.

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