“New Tourism Policy to have a clear-cut action plan with timelines.” – Dr. Mahesh Sharma
The Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation has said that the new Tourism Policy, 2015 will be launched on the 15th of May this year. He was addressing the participants at a workshop held on the formulation of National Tourism Policy 2015. The representatives from various organizations like Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), FICCI, NASSCOM, FAITH, Travel Agency Corporation of India, Indian Tourist Transporters Authority (ITTA), Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA), All India Resort Developers Association (AIRDA) and Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) were present among others at the meeting.
The Minister thanked the participants for bringing and sharing their wisdom on a common platform. Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is working as the greatest Ambassador of Tourism for the country and his efforts will be taken forward rapidly by the Ministry of Tourism.
Dr. Mahesh Sharma also said that from now on, a new work culture will be implemented in which a task will be identified and a person assigned for the task. The timeline will also be fixed and the implementation will be closely monitored, he said. Acknowledging the need for synergy between various Ministries of the government, the Minister appreciated the idea of National Tourism Board which is proposed as a part of the new Tourism Policy to speed up and promote tourism in the country.
The Tourism Minister explained that potential of existing policy of 2002 has not been used fully and the new policy will use the framework of existing National Tourism Policy of 2002 to make it dynamic to meet the challenges that have emerged in today’s world including technological and global competitiveness. He appreciated the idea of a ‘single window portal system’ for making information available to tourists.
The aim of the workshop was to receive inputs and suggestions from various stakeholders associated with tourism and hospitality sector so as to formulate a dynamic and pragmatic tourism policy to attain the target of “responsible and sustainable” tourism.
Various issues ranging from infrastructure, need for connectivity in remote areas, e-ticketing and safety and security were discussed during the workshop. The stakeholders related to hotel industry and transport business demanded tax incentives from the government specially in the off season. They also emphasized upon the need to have a data base research and training for skill development in order to boost tourism. The stakeholders also raised their concerns and gave various suggestions to Government to be incorporated into the Tourism Policy 2015.
The initiatives taken by government like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Visa on Arrival, E-visas were also discussed at the meeting.
Secretary, Tourism, Dr. Lalit Panwar said that the new policy will contain a definite action plan with a clear-cut road map and timelines. On the issue of E-Ticketing Dr. Lalit Panwar, said that E-Ticketing was started on a pilot basis for Taj Mahal and Humayun Tomb and Government is in the process of E-Ticketing for top 25 monuments of India.
The stake holders welcomed the move by Ministry of Tourism to make the new National Tourism Policy, 2015 to be based on fixed timeframes. They said that the ‘S’s used in previous policy i.e., Swagat (welcome), Soochna (Information), Suvidha (Facilitation), Suraksha (Security), Sahyog (Cooperation), Samrachana (Infrastructure Development) and Safai (Cleanliness) are relevant even today. So the new policy should aim at value addition over the previous one and should give a serious thought to the causes of non-implementation of various schemes under 2002 policy.
Keeping in view the technological changes, the speakers suggested that different mobile applications for various sectors of tourism can be launched in order to disseminate information to the interested tourists. The setting up of ‘Digital Museum’ was also proposed in order to promote the rich and unique local cultures and their heritage. Demand for establishing a ‘Hospitality University’ was also raised during the meeting.
Various other issues like soft adventures tourism, wildlife tourism, desert tourism and nature tourism were also discussed. The stakeholders also said that Yoga, Ayurveda and hospitality should be given due importance in the upcoming new tourism policy.
Senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism were also present in the workshop.