Shri Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati, Minister of Civil Aviation has said that the Government has taken a number of initiatives to make tourism affordable and accessible to the international traveler. He was speaking at the Plenary Session on ‘Core Infrastructure for Tourism’ at the Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit organized by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India.
The National Civil Aviation Policy takes an integrated approach to address the problem of air connectivity across regions and states. The government has permitted 100% FDI to attract greenfield and brownfield investment in airports, and enhanced FDI in airlines. The 5:20 rule has been scrapped and base fares are now capped for flights of 1 hour duration. Further, the government is working towards an open sky policy with SAARC, addressing issues related to enhancing skill development and increasing the domestic MRO, said the Minister.
The Government is committed to realizing the dream of lifting India’s share of tourism from less than one per cent at present to at least 2 per cent by 2025 as envisioned by our Prime Minister, stated Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Hon. Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture. Stressing that infrastructure and connectivity are the crucial links for realizing our inherent tourism potential, he said that the government is working towards addressing the requirements of tourist infrastructure in areas such as roads, rail, waterways, and civil aviation, among others. The Minister further stated that the government has liberalized the policy environment including allowing 100% FDI in hotels, railways, etc. and invited the private sector to address gaps.
Mr Sanjay Mitra, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, dwelt on issues such as development of roads and infrastructure for variegated tourist circuits and invited the private sector to invest in tourist infrastructure in a big way.
Mr Mohammad Jamshed, Member Traffic, Rail Board, spoke about the products developed by railways for different classes of tourists, chartered trains etc. He also highlighted the initiatives taken by railways for catering to travelers of different interest groups, station redevelopment, security lounges, and railway budget hotels. The Railways has introduced e-ticketing through international debt and credit cards since July this year and is offering rail passes, he added.
Mr U.P Singh, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, maintained that increased focus is required towards the domestic tourists which are rising at a fast pace. He suggested that tourist trains for overseas tourists could be used for domestic passengers during the lean season.
Mr Arun Panchariya, Co Founder and Principal of GFCL, London, underscored the importance of four major policy issues to perk up tourism viz speedy execution of policies, inter-ministerial coordination, efficient service and currency forward.
Mr Rajeev Menon, COO, Marriott International, mentioned five key attributes which attract tourists to a particular destination. These are unique places, infrastructure facilities, ease of doing business, skilled manpower, safety and security. He was strongly in favour of providing infrastructure status to the hotel industry for long-tenure loans.
Lastly, Mr Albert Sole, Private Sector Specialist, World Bank, spoke about market based and holistic approach to tourism and developing facilities keeping in mind the demand factor.
Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, highlighted the need for filling infrastructure gaps for the tourism sector.