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UNESCO selects India for heritage passport program

November 2006
UNESCO selects India for heritage passport program

According to an "Indian Tourism Industry Outlook (2006)" report put out by RNCOS Research, the government's efforts to boost tourism in India are paying off handsomely, although the country still has a long way to go. This is not breaking news, of course, but it's worth mentioning that the U.S. and the U.K. were found to be important contributors to the Indian tourism industry, with each nation accounting for 15 percent of the overall traffic during 2005. "India is the most preferred destination for more than 42 percent of the total foreign tourists coming to South Asia," the report adds. "Also, it enjoys the largest average duration of stay." So UNESCO's recent introduction of a Heritage Passport Program in India is timely, especially since many historical sites there need protection and proper maintenance. Four states (Karnataka, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal) have been chosen for the pilot program. The goal is also to make tourism in India more pro-poor, ethnic and pro-local. As a UNESCO representative puts it, "The program mandates to protect cultural heritage and promote creative diversity through education and cultural industries." Altogether 71 villages around the country have been picked for this type of development. As of now, reportedly, tourism in India accounts for 5.7 percent of the GDP and provides 8.7 percent of the total employment.

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