Kolkata: Stating that the Indian visitors in the US tend to stay for longer periods and spend more during their stay compared to the US residents coming to India, a US official on Thursday said his government has taken a bouquet of initiatives to attract more Indian tourists.

"India ranks 11th in US in terms of number of visitors but in terms of tourism export market, it ranks 6th because there is a trend of Indian visitors staying much longer duration there. So an average Indian tourist tends to spend more during his or her trip to the US," Principal Commercial Officer at the US Consulate General here Jonathan Ward said at a conference in the 6th edition of Travel East organised by business chamber CII.

Ward said the tourists data analysis suggests 38 per cent of the Indians visit the US with the primary purpose of business while another 28 percent go to meet friends and families living there.

Eighteen per cent of Indian visitors travel with the primary purpose of spending vacations while the purpose of the rest 16 per cent can be attributed to miscellaneous other reasons. Noting that the number of Indian tourists have been steadily increasing in the recent years, Ward said the US government wants to continue the momentum by reaching out to the tour operators to increase their knowledge.

"US government has introduced a public private partnership named Brand USA in collaboration with the US Department of Commerce that conducts tour operator briefings about different US destinations once a year in India. It also provides a certification programme for the Indian tour operators that wishes to specialise in US tourism and takes them to USA in familiarisation trips to the US," he said.

"Then there are 600 private sector organisations, state level governments, cities, several airlines and hotel chains together working towards the enhancement of tourism. The individual destinations may also have their own FAM programmes. Cities like New York, (and states like) California and Florida have their own office in India that works in this regard," he said.

About the challenges of tourism between the two countries, he pointed out that distance, travel time and cost were the major factors and claimed increase in the number of flights as well as more direct flight between both the countries is necessary to address the issues.

"The challenge of tourism between India and the US is distance and time which cannot change quickly. But the issue of cost can change with the availability of more flights and direct flights between the two countries," Ward noted He also said the US government has increased the number of its VISA offices in India for the convenience of the tourists. (IANS)