Making new plans: Kumari Selja, India’s Tourism Minister
INDIA’S Tourism Minister Kumari Selja presided over the National Tourism Advisory Council meeting in New Delhi today. The meeting discussed among other things initiatives of Ministry of Tourism and stakeholders for Commonwealth Games 2010 and measures to reduce the impact of global slowdown on tourism in India.
Speaking at the meeting, Kumari Selja said, tourism sector faced difficult situation in 2008 and 2009. This negative trend of growth was specific not only to India and was observed in other countries too. The Minister said the government has taken a number of initiatives to aggressively promote tourism in the country.
In 2009, the tourism ministry launched a series of promotional campaigns in the overseas markets to attract large number of foreign tourists to the country. The ministry conducted four road shows in the Middle East countries and 11 road shows in other countries to draw medical tourists to India’s wellness centres, hospitals and spas.
The Indian Association of Tour Operators and Adventure Tour Operators in collaboration with the ministry showcased different tourism products. The ‘Visit India Year 2009’ scheme jointly organized by stakeholders of tourism industry, state governments, airlines, hotels and tour operators offered several incentives to attract tourists.
To meet the high demand for hotel rooms, the ministry decided to standardize and ensure good, clean, hygiene, fair and upgraded facilities and practices in large number of guest houses and unregulated accommodation units. The policy of guest houses has been modified accordingly.
Kumari Selja said, the government has relaxed the guidelines for inbound, domestic, adventure tour operators and travel agencies with a view to encourage quality standards and services to promote tourism in the country.
A new system to issue visa to ensure tourist arrival on a pilot basis for citizens of Singapore, Finland, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Japan has also been introduced. Common ticketing system for the tourists visiting various monuments in Delhi has also been arranged by Archaeological Survey of India.
She said, the ministry is organizing inter-state regional conferences to give serious thought to tourism related issues and problems of a particular region and to ensure holistic and integrated tourism development in close cooperation with the states. A centralized collection of road taxes in the Golden Triangle of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur would also be in place to facilitate seamless flow of tourist vehicles during the Commonwealth Games 2010.
The minister said that her ministry is playing a pivotal to meet the shortage of about 30,000 hotel rooms during the Games. The hotels of India Tourism Development Corporation have been designated as Official Hotels for the Games, she added.
The ministry is providing training to 3000 volunteers under “Earn While You Learn” Scheme; training to more than 3000 taxi/coach and auto rickshaw drivers making them more tourists friendly are underway. Training would also be imparted to owners and service staff of the approved guest houses in Delhi to improve the quality of services in the tourism sector, she said.
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