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India Promotes Buddhism to Attract Korean Tourists
By Lee Hyo-sik
India plans to promote Buddhism and culture to attract more Korean tourists with the slogan ``Bring India to Korea and Bring Korea to India.''
``We seek to foster ties between India and Korea and bring them closer with similar cultural and other characteristics, including Buddhism, so that more Korean tourists come and fully enjoy what India offers to foreigners,'' Renuka Chowdhury, Indian minister for tourism, said in an interview with The Korea Times.
Chowdhury said that India plans to host a large-scale biennial event in February, promoting Buddhism to draw tourists, particularly Buddhists, to the South Asian country.
``I will visit Korea again early next year to hold a large-scale publicity campaign to promote the event. Hopefully, we can attract a large number of Korean tourists.'' she said.
Chowdhury also expressed hope that India will expand trade and commercial ties with Korea, particularly the tourism industry.
``We would like Korean companies to invest not only in our manufacturing and high-tech industries, but also in tourism, as it will help bring in more Korean tourists,'' she noted.
Chowdhury said that visitors from Korea will be welcomed and enjoy the great hospitality of Indians as Korean corporate brands, such as LG and Samsung, have become household names and the Indian public is fond of Koreans.
``It is also much easier for Koreans to visit India with significantly improved air connectivity and the country has made efforts to improve its social and leisure infrastructure,'' she noted.
Over 47,000 Koreans visited India for pleasure last year, up 21.2 percent from 2003, and Chowdhury expects more Korean tourists to come this year and beyond.
``India is also a great shopping destination as it boasts a flourishing manufacturing industry that produces all types of items you can think of. More importantly, our products, including unique textiles and hand-made crafts, are unique and very different from those made by Chinese companies,'' Chowdhury stressed.
She visited Korea Oct. 10-12. The visit was the first of its kind by an Indian tourism minister.
She added that India has and will continue to surprise visitors as they gain more than what they initially came for, thanks to diverse culture and religion.
``India is also proud of a wide range of unique traditional foods, which are different from region to region, and Korean tourists will find the original Indian cuisine very delicious,'' Chowdhury said.
``We also would like to see more Korean restaurants open in India, which will help facilitate bilateral cooperation and exchanges between the food industry,'' she added.