India took centrestage at this year's International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair. Minister of tourism Ambika Soni, who personally oversaw the campaign, spoke to Raghu Karnad about India's success and the road ahead for the growth of tourism in India. Excerpts:
First of all, congratulations on India's role as partner at the ITB—by all accounts it was a huge success.
It was incredible—India had quite a presence. In fact, it seemed at the cost of everybody else. Those who had put up stalls from other countries left their stalls and came to buy vacations at the Indian pavilion. Our presence was beautifully articulated—we had a mehendiwali, live demonstrations of wellness tourism, Kathakali dancers, stone-carvers, an astrologer, the West Bengal tourism minister arranged several mock weddings and distributed red saris.
It sounds almost on the scale of Indira Gandhi's Festivals of India.
That's right, it almost was. There were these huge Incredible India blowups around Berlin's main roundabout,...