India Insight

With the Games to come, 2010 looking rosy for India tourism

Tourism is big business in India and according to new figures released on Wednesday, business is booming.

A tourist takes a photograph in front of the Taj Mahal in the tourist city of Agra May 15, 2006. REUTERS/Brijesh Singh

Despite continued warnings of the threat of militant attacks in the country and sluggish growth in international traveller numbers following the global downturn, India’s tourism numbers bucked a downfall last year to post close to double-digit growth last month, resulting in an almost $1 billion windfall for the industry.

Foreign visitors jumped 9 percent during August compared to last year, with 382,000 entries during the month. A cumulative total since January of 3,467,000 is up 9.7 percent on 2009, according to India’s Ministry for External Affairs.

(Full coverage of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games)

For India’s hotels, restaurants, tourist sites and shops, higher visitor numbers means higher revenues — in August, revenues touched $992 million, an increase of $70 million from the same period last year.

Perhaps most encouraging for industry players, and the government’s Incredible India tourism campaign, the rise in visitors comes during a year that has seen bomb attacks and civil unrest.

Are Indian Muslims leading the way in condemning terror?

A man prays at the Nizamuddin shrine in New DelhiFor those Western critics that say Islam does not enough to to condemn terrorism, perhaps they should look at India, home to one of the world’s biggest Muslim populations — around 13 percent of mainly Hindu India’s 1.1 billion people.

 On Wednesday, it was the turn of Khalid Rasheed, head of the oldest madrasa in the northern city of Lucknow — a traditional centre for Muslims and religious scholarship. He rejected terrorism as anti-Islamic after he and his colleagues had been accused of apostasy over their pacifist stance by at group that calls itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Indian Mujahideen made threats against the madrasa in which they also claimed responsibility for last week’s bomb blasts in Jaipur, western India, which killed 63 people.

Time for India and Bangladesh to work together

For years India has always looked west to Pakistan when bombs exploded in its cities, powerless to influence its old foe.

A rapid action force soldier looks out from his truck during a curfew in Jaipur May 15, 2008. REUTERS/Punit ParanjpeNow, it is talking peace with Pakistan, and casting aspersions eastwards to Bangladesh, a country it helped establish and should have much more leverage over.

Isn’t it time for some serious diplomacy, to improve relations with Bangladesh and work together to combat violent Islamist extremism?