Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy on Thursday said suggestions are being taken from other ministries and states on the draft National Tourism Policy 2022.
He said this during a media interaction here after launch of a competition to select the best tourism village in the country, and also a new website to promote rural tourism.
India is showcasing its power in the world and has “risen” on various indices in the tourism sector, said Reddy, who also holds the portfolio of culture and development of the North East Region (DoNER).
“In 2014, 76.8 lakh foreign tourists had come to India, and in 2019 this number stood at 1.09 crore before Covid. Despite tourism sector being the most affected sector due to Covid, and in 2022, 61 lakh foreign tourists came to India. And, I am hopeful that in 2023, around one crore foreign tourists are expected to visit India,” Reddy said in his address to mediapersons.
He also shared data on arrival percentages of foreign tourists from a few countries to attest that the sector was recovering.
“In 2022, Australian tourists have come to India in more than the number that stood pre-Covid, while the number of tourists from the US has reached 91 per cent of the pre-Covid level. And, for a small country like Portugal, we reached the figures which is about 91 per cent of the pre-Covid level,” the Union tourism minister said.
Domestic tourist numbers are also increasing continuously, he asserted.
“We have to take the example of Jammu and Kashmir tourism to understand this. In 2022, Jammu and Kashmir received a staggering 1.84 crore tourists, the highest since Independence,” the minister said.
“In Srinagar, in January 2020, on an average per week, 300 flights used to arrive, and in October 2022, the figures increased to 532,” Reddy said, adding after the revoking of Article 370 (in 2019), there is an environment of peace and tranquility which has “led to increase in tourism there”.
Asked about the National Tourism Policy, he said, “We are making efforts to have the new policy introduced as soon as possible.” “We have sought suggestions from various ministries and positive feedback has come. We have also sought suggestions from various states across the country,” he said.
The National Tourism Policy 2022 is part of the vision of New India on high trajectory of growth and prosperity. The new policy is a holistic framework for sustainable and responsible growth of tourism sector in the country. The policy aims at improving framework conditions for tourism development in the country, supporting tourism industries, strengthening tourism support functions and developing tourism sub sectors, the government has said in the draft of the policy.
The policy is architected around six key guiding principles, five national tourism missions and eight strategic pillars supported by an elaborate institutional and governance framework, it said.
Interacting with the mediapersons, Reddy said the opinion of other stakeholders is also being sought and feedback of the people will be taken online.
The Union minister also said the tourism ministry has initiated actions to prepare plans for implementation of the proposals made in the Union Budget for promotion and development of tourism.
At least 50 travel destinations would be developed as a “complete package” and states will be encouraged to set up a “unity mall” for the sale of their products, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in the budget on February 1, asserting that promotion of tourism will be taken up on a “mission mode”.
In her speech in Lok Sabha, she had emphasised that the country offers “immense attraction” for domestic as well as foreign tourists and can be a major job creator.
Asked about the status of the project on the destinations which are to be developed as a complete package, Reddy said “it is under discussion”.
He also spoke about the ministrys Visit India Year 2023 campaign launched on January 31 that seeks to encourage inbound travel to the country which is currently chairing the G20.
In response to a question on various restrictions linked with sites under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), he said some changes in the AMASR Act (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act) (AMASR Act) that regulates the work on preservation of monuments and archaeological sites of national importance are being contemplated.
Earlier in his address, Reddy also said till date, under PRASHAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual and Heritage Augmentation Drive) scheme, a total of 45 projects for an amount of Rs 1,586.10 crore have been sanctioned. The scheme was launched by the Ministry of Tourism in 2015.
The Ministry of Tourism introduced Swadesh Darshan scheme in 2014-15 with a focus on integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country. And, 76 projects were sanctioned for an amount of Rs 5,315.59 crore under various themes such as eco, heritage, Himalayan, coastal, etc. The scheme has now been revamped as Swadesh Darshan 2.0 with the objective to develop sustainable and responsible tourist destinations in the country. The ministry has selected 50 destinations for development in the country, he said.
The ministry has also sanctioned 51 projects for an amount of Rs.737.89 crore from 2014-15 to 2022-23 under Assistance to Central Agencies scheme for various projects such as sound and light show, development cruise terminals, border tourism projects such as Attari Post Tourism Infrastructure, Tanot Post Tourism Infrastructure, etc, Reddy said.
He added the ministry has sanctioned 59 tourism routes under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN-3 to provide better connectivity to important tourist places including Iconic sites. Out of this, 51 are already being provided viability gap funding.
He told the reporters that his ministry is also working with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to improve the road connectivity to various tourist destinations and setting up of wayside amenities, as also with the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways to promote cruise tourism both in oceans and inland waterways and has funded several cruise terminals projects.
Under Indias G20 Presidency since December 1, 2022 and in the backdrop of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the government has resolved to develop tourism in mission mode with focus on convergence and public private partnership, the ministry said.
Under this Presidency, more than 200 meetings are being organised at 56 locations which will give unprecedented opportunity to these destinations to come on the tourism world map, it added.
Reddy also launched the website of the first Global Tourism Investors Summit which will take place at Pragati Maidan here this year.
The Ministry of Tourism is organising the Summit from May 17-19 to showcase investible projects and opportunities in tourism and hospitality sector in India to domestic and international investors. This is being organised in the backdrop of Indias G20 Presidency this year, the ministry said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)