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India’s tourism infrastructure, services well maintained despite limited resources: Union Tourism Secretary

Giving the keynote address at the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) recently conducted annual tourism summit, ‘The Wonder that is India’, Parvez Dewan, Secretary-Tourism, Government of India, said that even within limited resources, India has managed to maintain its tourism infrastructure and services. The summit was held at ITC Maurya, New Delhi on January 10.

Talking about the tourist-friendliness nature of India, Dewan cited the example of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India approving collective landing permits to groups of four or more travellers, last year. He added that the country is also not as expensive as European countries, thus making it a cost-effective destination for inbound tourists. While Dewan admitted that there are a few problems that India faces, such as inadequate cleanliness and hygiene at tourist locations, he asserted that the country was doing well in the tourism sector.

Delivering the theme address, Arjun Sharma, Co-Chair, CII National Committee on Tourism, and Managing Director, Le Passage to India, said that India should take collective efforts to attract more tourists. Currently, India receives only 0.6 per cent of global travellers, he noted. “To get one per cent of world travellers, India should look into seriously wiping away some of the hurdles in the tourism sector such as issues in visa system, high cost of visa, high taxes, issues in the aviation sector such as reduction of User Development Fee (UDF) and rationalisation of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF),” Sharma opined.

Earlier, welcoming delegates, Nakul Anand, Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism, and Executive Director, ITC Limited, said that India has immense potential in tourism. He said that the opportunities and resources that the country has are unmatched.

Subhash Goyal, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said that marketing is the backbone of tourism in any country, and this should be the focus area of India to give tourism a fillip.

Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister, Government of Meghalaya, said that the industry and the government should work together for common objectives. Tourism stakeholders should sensitise policymakers about the importance of the industry, he suggested. “India needs a stronger internal security force and high investment in policing,” the Minister said. Sujit Banerjee, Secretary General, World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative, gave the vote of thanks.

The seminar also included business sessions on various topics concerning the tourism industry. At the ‘Unexplored Historical Monuments and Conservation Promotion’, S K Misra, Chairman, Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (RHD), highlighted the significance of the preservation of the country’s history and culture. Navin Chawla, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, said that foreign tourists should be offered a pleasurable experience while visiting India.

Speaking at the ‘Offbeat & Special Interest Tourism’ session, Chandana Khan, Special Chief Secretary, Tourism & Culture, Archaeology & Museums, Archives & Youth Services & Sports, NCC, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, said that in a bid to promote offbeat tourism products, the state is promoting its folk arts, culture and indigenous water transportation using cross canals.

At the ‘Bollywood & Tourism’ session, Mahesh Bhatt, Bollywood filmmaker, said that Bollywood inspires tourists to visit India. He added a lot of Hindi movies have been shot in Seychelles, Korea and many European countries, and the tourism industries of all of those countries got a good boost with the increase in tourist arrivals. He opined that Jammu & Kashmir is among the more beautiful locations in India, offering picturesque sceneries, thus making it suitable for film shoots. Taking this view further, Talat Parvez, Director Tourism, Kashmir, said that the state has immense potential in attracting Bollywood. “The place is astounding with its natural beauty. The Tourism Department now offers various incentives for Bollywood to shoot more films in the state,” he stated.

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