India targets 10 million tourists in 2010: report

NEW DELHI, Aug 18, 2007 (AFP) – India aims to double its tourist numbers to 10 million in 2010 when it hosts the Commonwealth Games, a report said Saturday.

Indian Tourism Minister Ambika Soni said the numbers visiting the country had grown steadily with 3.92 million tourists in 2005 and 4.43 million in 2006, according to the Press Trust of India.

Soni forecast the inflow would touch the five million mark in 2007.

“We want a 10 million tourist inflow in 2010,” Soni said while inaugurating the Travel and Tourism Fair in the eastern city of Kolkata.

New Delhi is playing host to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

“We are looking at the hotel industry to come up to the challenge,” she said, adding that at least 150,000 more rooms in all categories of hotels were needed to cater for the increased tourist inflow.

The World Travel and Tourism Council earlier this year placed India among the top 10 countries in terms of tourism sector growth over the next few years.

The number of tourists to India has been growing sharply but the flow is still paltry compared with much smaller countries in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia, for instance