Pointing out that Gujarat has become a “destination of choice” for foreign tourists visiting India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a gathering at the temple town of Dwarka in the State on Sunday, said that one out of five tourists who came to India in 2022 visited Gujarat.

“Today, Gujarat is becoming a destination of choice for foreign tourists visiting India. One in every five of the total 85 lakh foreign tourists who visited India in the year 2022 has visited Gujarat. As of last year till August, 15.5 lakh tourists have already visited Gujarat,” said the Prime Minister, who is currently visiting the State.

PM Modi said the Central government’s decision to issue e-visas to foreign tourists has also benefited Gujarat. “This increase in the number of tourists is creating new employment and self-employment opportunities in Gujarat,” he added.

The Prime Minister also shared his experience of taking a under-sea dive to see the submerged portions of Beyt Dwarka, which is believed to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna. 

In the morning, PM Modi inaugurated a ₹980 crore “Sudarshan Setu” at Dwarka, which links Okha on Gujarat’s mainland to Beyt Dwarka through a cable-stayed bridge.

“Six years ago, I had the opportunity to lay the foundation stone of this Setu... It is a marvel an example of engineering. I wish students of structural engineering to study this Sudharshan Setu. It is India’s longest cable-stayed bridge,” PM Modi said, adding that the new bridge will ensure that tourists and pilgrims do not have to depend on ferry boats to reach Beyt Dwarka.

“The lighting on the bridge has been done using solar panels. There are 12 tourist galleries on the bridge where people can view the open sea,” he said, highlighting the features of the bridge. 

Highlighting a number of projects built during his tenure across the country, the PM said, “When the connectivity improves, it directly affects tourism in the country. The increasing connectivity is making Gujarat a tourist hub.”

Later in the evening, PM Modi at a public event held at Rajkot inaugurated AIIMS at Rajkot which has been built at a cost of ₹1,195 crore. Similarly, he also inaugurated four other AIIMS at Kalyani, Mangalagiri, Bhatinda and Raebareli. These are among the ₹48,000 crore projects he inaugurated at the event.

“Till the last 50 years of independence there was only one functional AIIMS in Delhi. Seven AIIMS were given approval in the last seven decades, but even they were not completed. In the last 10 days, foundation stones or inauguration ceremonies have been held for seven AIIMS,” said Modi, adding that it was his government that built AIIMS at Raebareli considered to be a strong-hold of the Congress party leaders in the past.

At both the events at Rajkot and Dwarka, PM Modi narrated his experience of scuba diving in Arabian Sea to personally visit the buried ruins of the submerged old city of Dwarka, believed to have been built by Lord Krishna. He said he not only dived and reached the ruins, but also got a chance to touch them, spend some moments and pray wearing his diving equipment.