Indian Consulate General in S Africa partners with UP to boost tourism to India

Johannesburg, Mar 25 (PTI) The Consulate General of India here has partnered with Uttar Pradesh to boost tourism to India post COVID-19, highlighting the state’s various religious sites and other attractions.

Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Principal Secretary for Tourism and Culture in UP, shared the detailed plans on attracting tourists to the state at a meet titled Post-Covid Tourism to India’ which was organised by the Indian Consul General in Johannesburg Anju Ranjan on Wednesday.

Uttar Pradesh was the partner state in the programme.

We are committed to making Ayodhya a leading place among religious places in the world (for tourism), Meshram said, as he highlighted a wide range of Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian sites in the state that could attract tourists.

He also highlighted the wildlife and handicrafts of the state.

Meshram also talked about the new tourism policy of Uttar Pradesh which features special incentives for the tourism sector, including state subsidies in a wide range of areas for boosting tourism.

On partnering with the state, Ranjan said, “we partnered with UP because a large number of the descendants of the first Indians who arrived in South Africa from 1860 onwards came from UP and Bihar.

We get many requests to help them trace their ancestry so that they can get OCI cards, Ranjan said, adding that UP has a special desk called “Tracing the Roots” for this purpose.

The diaspora plays a major role in promoting tourism, the diplomat said.

Explaining the reason behind inviting local operators from the tourism sector to the meet, Ranjan said tourism was the best way to revive the economies of both India and South Africa.

The Indian economy saw a seven per cent negative decline during the COVID pandemic, with similar figures in South Africa. We are both in the same boat and can’t afford to sink we must find ways of addressing it together, Ranjan said.

Tara Pathak from the Consulate said that travelling to India was becoming easier.

We now have e-visas and a 24/7 toll-free multilingual tourist helpline. India is fast becoming the next golf hub globally and is currently the second largest tourism hub, Pathak said.

Ranjan also presented a special citation to international company Satguru Travel for its role in supporting a number of repatriation flights to India during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa last year.