Source: Business Standard
Huge potential for collaboration between the two countries in areas of tourism infrastructure and hotel industry
Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan Akihiro Ohta called on the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture Shripad Naik. During the meeting both sides discussed the matters related to tourism sector to further strengthen the bilateral relations between India and Japan.

Shripad Naik said that India gives high importance to its relations with Japan. Regular high-level political exchanges have given a new maturity to the relations between the two countries. Recalling the recent visit by the Prime Minister of India to Japan in August 2014, the Minister noted that the visit has given further impetus to bilateral relations and has strengthened the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

He said, Japan is an important source market for India Tourism. During 2013, India received 2.20 lakhs tourists from Japan. India also provided visa on arrival facility to the Japanese tourists since January 2010. The Minister said, Tourism is an area, which provides huge potential for cooperation for mutual benefit to both the countries.

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. Japan may consider investing in the hotel sector, as the same has been opened up for 100% Foreign Direct Investment on automatic basis.

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

The Minister said, since Tourism is mainly an industry driven by the private sector a regular interaction between the Tour Operators is a must. The Indian tour operators and various State Governments have been regularly participating in the 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 visiting Japanese Minister expressed his condolence for the flood victims in Kashmir and expressed that similar incidents happen in Japan and other parts of the world. The Japanese Minister spoke about his meeting with the Prime Minister of India during his recent visit to Japan, emphasized 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 to Japanese tourists visiting India.

During the meeting both sides agreed to organize the Joint Working Group meeting on Tourism at the earliest and at a date and venue to be decided through diplomatic channels.