BILATERAL efforts to build stronger partnerships and tourism development between Asia's two largest countries were unveiled during the China-India Tourism Forum yesterday, with 2015 and 2016 having been designated Visit India Year and Visit China Year in China and India respectively.
Speaking during the forum, Li Jinzao, chairman of China National Tourism Administration, said: "Moving forward, we will extend the scope and depth of collaboration with India as well as strengthen collaboration with other parts of the world, because the tourism industry contributes to job creation and the economic development of countries."
Mahesh Sharma, India's minister of tourism and culture, said: "We have seen some early positive trends after introducing the electronic visa-on-arrival facility to Chinese tourists in July 2015. We hope that the celebration of Visit India Year will help (Chinese visitors) to better appreciate what India has to offer."
Sharma also believes that Shandong's new four-times weekly flights between Kunming and Delhi, which just commenced earlier last week on November 11, will also make the Indian capital a destination of choice for visitors from Kunming.
Indian inbound tourism players are showing a keen interest to grow Chinese traffic to the country.
Gaurav Dogra, founder of New Delhi-based Plan Your Holiday, said: "Shandong Airlines is the only carrier offering connections between Kunming and Delhi. It will definitely promote tourism to Kunming, and demand among Indian travellers is bound to increase.
"Prior to this, outbound demand from India to Kunming was minimal as the destination was not well known," he added.
Rajan Sehgal, president of the India Golf Tourism Association, sees potential in developing golf tourism between Delhi and Kunming as both destinations have many good golf courses to offer.
To further encourage Chinese travellers to visit India, a Chinese telephone helpline was launched this year.