Guwahati: Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam on Sunday said the country's tourism sector fetched USD 234 billion revenue last year, registering a growth of over 19 per cent.
Delivering the inaugural speech at the 2nd ASEAN-India Youth Summit here, he said the country was ranked third in the tourism sector, according to the 2018 report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).
"Last year, India generated USD 234 billion revenue from the tourism sector. While the global revenue growth was five per cent, it grew by 19.4 per cent in India," the union tourism minister said.
This revenue was contributed by 87 per cent domestic and 13 per cent foreign tourists, Alphons said.
"From the foreign tourists we earned USD 27 billion, which grew by 14 per cent compared to global growth of seven per cent," he said, adding that around 82 million people are employed in the tourism sector.
About spiritual tourism, Alphons said 60-70 per cent of the total domestic tourists fall under this category.
"The Indian philosophy is yoga. We see all as one. Yoga is the way of life and it says the entire universe is part of me. If I want to be happy, others have to be happy -- this is the philosophy behind yoga.
"This is Indian philosophy. This is the common philosophy of ASEAN. Let us forget physical connectivity, this is the spiritual connectivity between us," the minister said.
Alphons also advocated for a peaceful and sustainable world, free of pollution and damage to the environment.
"Let us talk how we can bring sanity to world politics. Today, the world is being crushed under xenophobic politics. We need to think beyond our own countries," he appealed to the international gathering from the ASEAN nations.
On the occasion, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said more collaboration on various fields between the countries are needed to strengthen the relationship.
"We have requested the MEA to negotiate with the ASEAN countries to have their consulates in Guwahati, which will soon become the gateway of India in the northeast. Already, Bangladesh and Bhutan have opened their consulates here," he said.