Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker, Lok Sabha has said that the Tourists are the Brand Ambassadors of their respective countries and Tourism is a mode of improving the image of their countries abroad. All the persons involved in Tourism industry are the Flag Bearers of our country. The continuous strive for service excellence is all the more important as India’s Tourism Sector is on an upward growth track. Addressing after presenting “National Tourism Awards for the year 2014-15” in various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry at a function organised by Ministry of Tourism here yesterday, she opined that we should look to tourism as a way of transforming not just the economy, but the lives of its people, within and outside the sector. The idea of transformation goes so much wider. It is about creating opportunities, through tourism, for each and every individual of the destination to play a direct role.
She said that Tourist Guides play a pivotal role in Tourism industry as they play an important role in promoting tourism. She called for positive news reporting about our country so that good image of our country can be portrayed abroad. She said that in our childhood, we used to read about Gulliver Travels and Vasco De Gama to know about new places of Tourism. But now through the spread of Tourism industry, it has become very easy. She expressed her happiness that the Rural Tourism has also been accorded due importance in this Award ceremony and cited the example of rich Rural tourism in Konkan region.
Smt. Sumitra Mahajhan extended her heartiest congratulations to all the award recipients and wished all of them a most rewarding journey ahead as they and their colleagues continue to bring the tourism industry to greater heights through your outstanding service and excellence.
Shri Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism & Culture, in his address, said that his Ministry is in consultation with Ministry of Railways for exclusive Tourist coaches for Tourists on select routes as well as for the development of 50 Railway stations as “Adarsh Railway Stations”. Simultaneously, talks are going on with Ministry of Civil Aviation to develop 65 airports as ‘Adarsh Airports’ and a low air fare scheme of Rs. 2500/- for passengers will boost Tourism industry.
He said that the path breaking initiative of his Government has been the easing of the Visa regime. The e- tourist visa is reality today. It is now available for nationals of 150 countries. The Ministry of Tourism is also continuously working with MHA to make the e-tourist visa more tourist friendly. A Welcome Kit to all foreign tourists arriving at Indian airports is being planned by the Ministry.
The Minister said that a slew of measures taken by Government of India in last two years viz. Swadesh Darshan; PRASAD; Toll Free Helpline Number in 12 foreign languages; Medical Tourism Promotion Board; Ramayan Circuit; Krishna Circuit; Buddha Circuit; and Swachchh App. etc have helped the tourism industry move on the path of growth. He urged all stake holders in Tourism sector to promote these new tourist friendly initiatives. He also said that without involving private sectors, our goal of Tourism development can not be achieved.
He emphasized that while the tourism sector in India continues to grow and develop, it is essential to remain true to the core values of ‘Athithi Devo Bhav’ of providing consistent, exceptional service to our valued travellers, both local and international. Few travel destinations in the world can equal the diversity, exhilaration, and wonder of our Country’s tourism product. The combination of our landscape, people, culture, attractions and experiences provide a travel package that is hard to match. At the outset it is important for us to recognise how much the tourism industry in India has grown and its many successes and accomplishments. Our combined efforts and hard work is making an impact.
Dr. Sharma lauded the roles played by various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in our country and said that National Tourism Awards will prove to be an invaluable tool in ensuring that the tourism sector in India is not only encouraged, but recognised to deliver on-the-ground, as we work collectively towards mutual objectives.
Shri Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, M/o Tourism in his welcome address said that the Tourism sector has now been accorded very high priority world over. Our GDP has grown with the development of Tourism. Foreign Tourists Arrival has now touched a new height and our Domestic Tourism is also booming. Many new initiatives of Ministry of Tourism in past two years are remarkable.
In all, 74 Awards were presented in various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Tourism Ministers of many States, Central and State Government Officials, Members from the Travel and Hospitality Industries, including leading Hoteliers, Travel Agents and Tour Operators and Travel Media attended the function.