India absolutely safe for foreign tourists: Banerjee


KOCHI – India is an absolutely safe destination for foreign tourists and there is no apprehensions of any negative fallout of the murder of a British teenager on a Goa beach, Union Tourism Secretary Silabhadra Banerjee said.

“India is an absolutely safe destination as anywhere else in the world. There is no doubt about that,” Banerjee told reporters on the sidelines of the four-day International conference on “Responsible Tourism” here.

All the state governments had much earlier been asked to set up “tourist police”, which some states have already put in place, he said.

At the state tourism secretaries conference held in New Delhi in January, it was suggested to utilise the services of ex-servicemen in tourist security related activities.

A set of draft guidelines in this regard has been formed in consultation with the Defence and Home ministries, which have been sent to all state governments, he said.

Tourism growth during January and Feburary this year was very “positive” with a 11 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals.

During 2007, the country received five million foreign tourists, an increase of 12 per cent over 2006 and this trend continues in 2008 also, he said. The increase in forex earnings over 2006 was 34 per cent.

He said states like Kerala were doing very well. The tourism department was now focussing on North Eastern states and rural hot spots as part of the “Incredible India” campaign.

British teenger Scarlette Eden Keeling was found dead on February 18 on Goa’s Anjuna beach bringing to fore the safety and security of foreign tourists in the coastal state.