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MAHARASTRA HOT SPOT FOR FORIEGN TOURISTS

The country's foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector are likely to grow at 13 per cent per annum and touch USD 26 billion by 2015 from the current level of USD 20 billion annually, industry body Assocham today said. "Growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 per cent, India's foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector are likely to reach USD 26 billion by 2015 from the current level of USD 20 billion," the chamber said in a statement. Besides, the arrival of foreign tourists in India is likely to cross 80 lakh mark by 2015 from 70 lakh at present, with a CAGR of seven per cent, according to an analysis conducted by Assocham, ahead of the World Tourism Day tomorrow. The state-wise analysis revealed that Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the top five destinations for foreign tourists and comprise 70 per cent of the total number of foreign tourists visiting India. Maharashtra tops the list with a share of 25 per cent, followed by Tamil Nadu (17 per cent), Delhi (11 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (10 per cent) and Rajasthan (seven per cent). "The Centre should further push India's tourism industry as its contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) is about 6.6 per cent while its contribution to the total workforce is about 7.7 per cent and accounts for six per cent of the total investments," Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said. The foreign exchange earned through tourism is critical to combat the rising current account deficit (CAD) and the government should look to boost foreign tourist inflow by easing the visa regime and enter into agreements with various countries' to strengthen tourism cooperation, he added. With over USD 17 bn earnings, tourism has emerged as India's fourth biggest foreign exchange earner after exports of petroleum at USD 60.8 bn, gems and jewellery (USD 43.3 bn) and transport equipments (USD 18.3 bn), the chamber said. "In terms of growth in international tourism receipts, India has clocked a CAGR of 12.9 per cent which is higher as compared to 9.5 per cent at Asia-Pacific level and 6.1 per cent globally," according to the analysis. Tourists from the US constitute about 16 per cent share in the total arrival of foreign tourists across India, followed by the UK at 11.9 per cent. Besides, Bangladesh at seven per cent, Sri Lanka (4.5 per cent share) and Canada (3.8 per cent share) are among the top five countries with maximum foreign tourist arrivals in India. 

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