New Delhi: Eyeing 20 million foreign tourists by 2020, the Union Tourism Ministry is out to actively woo foreign footfalls at major tourist destinations – with new foreign language signage, plans to shorten the e-visa application form and slash the visa fees.
The ministry is planning to put up sign boards in at least three foreign languages at places like Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh, and Bodh Gaya in Bihar which are frequented by large numbers of tourists from Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea. The ministry plans to put up sign languages in Sinhala, Japanese and Korean in these places.
The sign boards will also feature QR codes which on scanning will provide detailed information about the monument, its history and other details in that particular foreign language.
"We are still in the initial phase, as officials and I myself have been pondering upon the possibilities of the plan. But once approved, this will certainly help in boosting up foreign tourists," the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel said.
Under the proposed plan, the ministry will initially identify famous monuments, later a data research will be conducted to ascertain top three countries from where most number of tourist visit that particular site. The ministry will then erect sign boards in the mother tongue of those countries.
"We are planning to erect sign boards with at least three foreign languages. Also it will adjust a QR code that would deliver the details about the monument just like a guide," Patel added.
Though the plan is still in initial phase, an official from the ministry informed IANS, that the top brass is very much dedicated towards the plan and is planning to roll it out within a year.
The decision will boost footfall on monuments like Sanchi Stupa, which ministry found is most visited by Sri Lankan tourist. "The plan bring down efforts by the foreign tourists to find directions, and also to understand the history and importance of the monument," an official from tourism ministry said.
Apart from this the ministry is also working extensively with the ministry of external affairs to shorten the e-visa format and reduce the visa fees which has been a concern for many foreign tourists.