Japan may invest in India's tourism infrastructure

Japan is likely to invest in India's tourism infrastructure, including hotels, amidst a surge in the number of Japanese visiting India every year. Investment in hotels would be attractive to Japanese investors as it has been opened up for 100 per cent foreign direct investment through the automatic route, minister of state (independent charge) for tourism and culture Shripad Naik said.

''India would be interested to learn from the Japanese experience in the field of tourism. There is huge potential for collaboration between the two countries in areas of tourism infrastructure and hotel industry, in particular, budget hotels,'' Naik said.

He said, there has been a strong interest of Japanese tourists in places connected with Buddhism in India. Japan may consider investment, especially in Buddhist circuits. He noted that a world class facility has been developed at Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra with the assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Japan's minister for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism (MLIT) Akihiro Ohta today called on India's minister of state (independent charge) for tourism and culture Shripad Naik, during which the two sides discussed matters related to tourism sector in order to further strengthen bilateral relations between India and Japan.

''India gives high importance to its relations with Japan,'' Naik said, adding that regular high level political exchanges have given a new maturity to the relations between the two countries.

He said, Japan is an important source market for India Tourism. During 2013 India received 2.2 lakh tourists from Japan. India also provided visa on arrival facility to the Japanese tourists since January 2010, the minister said, adding that tourism is an area which provides huge potential for cooperation for mutual benefit to both the countries.

Since tourism is mainly an industry driven by the private sector, the minister said, a regular interaction between the tour operators is a must. The Indian tour operators and various state governments have been regularly participating in travel fairs held in Japan every year. He said, India would also like to invite the Japanese tour operators and tourism industry to participate in tourism related events in India as this will help opening of new avenues of cooperation in this area.

The Japanese minister spoke about his meeting with the Indian prime minister during his recent visit to Japan and emphasised the importance of cooperation in tourism and welcomed current efforts of promotional activities through tourism expos to encourage their citizens to travel to each other's country. He thanked the Indian government for extending the VOA facility to Japanese tourists visiting India.

During the meeting both sides agreed to organise the joint working group meeting on tourism at the earliest and at a date and venue to be decided through diplomatic channels.