For Tourism, We Welcome People From Pakistan, Says Minister Mahesh Sharma

NEW DELHI: Amid rising tension between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack, Union minister Mahesh Sharma today extended invitation to tourist from all countries, including those from Pakistan.

Speaking on the sidelines of a programme to mark the World Tourism Day today, he said India is a diverse country and welcomes tourists from across the globe in the spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family).

“For tourism, we welcome people from there (Pakistan),” he said when asked about the impact of souring India-Pakistan relations on the tourism sector.

On reports of India considering a review of ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status given to Pakistan, he said, the call has to be taken by the External Affairs Ministry which “issues advisory from time to time” on such issues.

He was speaking to reporters after presenting various awards, including for a painting competition organised by India Tourism.

He said people’s faith and perception about India has improved as is evident among others things in higher Foreign Direct Investment at a time the world struggles with economic sluggishness and witnesses bouts of terrorist activities.

He said the country has “proved itself” as “Incredible India” with increasing foreign footfalls at various tourism destinations in the country.

Mr Sharma said India will offer tourists a “swachh (clean), and safe tourism experience and welcome them in the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.

Stressing “tourism is for all”, he said his ministry will make all tourist destinations “divyang-friendly (friendly for differently-abled people)” by introducing facilities like ramps in the coming months.

The minister also flagged off a sightseeing tour for ‘Divyang’ children. Thirty five students from class II-VI of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya School for Divyang Children, Minto Road, New Delhi, are part of this sightseeing tour.

Theme for 2016 World Tourism Day is: ‘Tourism for All!! – Promoting Universal Accessibility’.

Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi said, “On this year’s World Tourism Day help us spread the word of both importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large.”

Later in the day, the minister also flagged off ‘Swachh Paryatan Run’ from Transport Bhawan, where Tourism Ministry is housed, to India Gate.