Safety and Security of Tourist should be of Utmost Concern says Sahai
Safety and Security of tourist should be of utmost concern to everyone in the country. All stake holders including Centre, State Governments and other agencies should be fully involved in this task. This was stated by Union Minister for Tourism, Shri Subodh Kant Sahai while addressing a meeting in the Consultative Committee meeting attached to his Ministry, here today. Expressing concern over the recent abduction of foreign tourists in Odisha, the Minister said such incidents cause an adverse impact on the flow of foreign tourists to the country. Shri Sahai also called for investment friendly industrial policy for tourism sector in the country.
Consultative Committee attached to Ministry of Tourism Meets
The Tourism Minister said the objective of the Ministry of Tourism is to increase India’s share in world tourist arrivals to 1% from the present 0.6% by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan. This target would mean 11.37 million Foreign Tourist Arrivals by 2016. The Ministry is also targeting 1495.82 million Domestic Tourism Visits by 2016. It is estimated that this growth would lead to additional employment generation of 2.5 crore jobs. For achieving this objective, the Ministry has stepped up its promotional activities in important as well as potential source markets overseas and is taking several initiatives for overall growth of the sector.
Shri Shai said the utilization of plan allocation by the Ministry of Tourism during the first three years of the 11th Five Year Plan has been about 99%. During 2010-11, utilization was almost 100%. For 2011-12 upto February 2012 the utilization is 90.14% of Revised Estimates of Rs. 1050 crores. He said tourism, especially international tourism in India is effective by seasonality and is therefore prone to the problem of demand and supply. The Minister said the strategy to overcome from this aspect of “ seasonality” of Indian Tourism is to promote India as a 365 days destination, offering year round experiences, by selecting products which are unique to the destination and thereby create opportunities for the tourists to visit the country all-round the year.
Referring to the various steps taken by Ministry of Tourism to promote and exploit the potential of adventure tourism in the country, Shri Sahai said his Ministry has introduced a voluntary scheme for Approval of Adventure Tour Operators, which is open to all adventure tour operators. The Tourism Minister informed the members that Central Financial Assistance is extended to various State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for development of tourism Infrastructure in Adventure Tourism destinations. The assistance covers facilities for trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, aero-sports, winter/water related sports, trekker huts, wildlife viewing facilities, etc. Financial assistance for purchase of water sports equipment consisting of kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, fibre glass boats, hovercrafts, water scooters, etc. is also provided to State Governments upto 25% of the cost of the equipment.
Shri Subodh Kant said his Ministry has been following up with concerned central ministries with regard to facilitation for development of adventure tourism. He said an encouraging outcome has been the security clearance given by Government of India for opening of 104 additional peaks in Jammu and Kashmir (Leh Area) subject to stipulations and clearances from State Government, Home Ministry and other concerned agencies. Shri Sahai said the opening of the additional peaks will help in positioning the Indian Himalayas as an Adventure tourism destination.
Underlining the importance of Conventions and Conferences as a significant segment of the tourism industry, the Minister said in order to give a boost to the Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism, the Govt. of India has decided to extend the benefits under Market Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme, administered by the Ministry of Tourism, to ‘Active Members’ of India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB) towards bidding for International Conferences/Conventions, thereby bringing more MICE business to the country. Under the scheme, Associations/ societies would be given financial support on winning the bid or for obtaining second and third positions in the bidding process. The Ministry of Tourism extends financial assistance of Rs. 5.00 crore to State Governments for constructing one convention centre in the State.
The Members cutting across the party line appreciated the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism in promoting niche tourism in the country. Some Members suggested for special efforts to promote cruse tourism in Kerala and Goa. One Member was of the opinion that Forest Conservation Act should be suitably amended for construction of more roads in hilly States to promote tourism. He urged the Tourism Minister to take up this issue with his counterpart in Ministry of Environment and Forests. There was a suggestion for more active involvement of Consultative Committee Members in the formulation of various tourism projects by the respective States.
Minister of State for Tourism Shri Sultan Ahmed, Secretary Tourism Shri RH Khwaja and other senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism were also present in the meeting. The Members of Parliament who participated in the meeting include:- Dr. Charles Dias, Shri Jagdambika Pal, Shri Khiladi Lal Bairwa Shri P.C. Gaddigoudar, Shri Sripad Yesso Naik and Shri Virender Kashyap (Lok Sabha) and Shri Tarini Kanta Roy and Shri Ranbir Singh Prajapati ( Rajya Sabha).