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Make India the Number 1 Tourist Destination in the World : Lok Sabha Speaker

Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, delivered keynote Address at the programme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, to mark the World Tourism Day, 2021. Union Minister of Tourism, Culture & DoNER G. Kishan Reddy and MoS for Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik also graced the occasion while a video message of Secretary General, WTO, Zurab Pololikashvili was also played.  Secretary Tourism Arvind Singh; DG Tourism, Kamala Vardhana Rao; Head UNEP, Atul Bagai; senior officers of the Tourism Ministry and representatives of travel and hospitality industry addressed on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Birla said that post-Covid, the tourism sector is reviving in India at a faster pace. He further said that committed and collective efforts will ensure that India will emerge as the best tourist destination in the world. “The way we collectively defeated Covid-19, our collective force and coordinated efforts will take our economy to a new height”, said Shri Birla. Tourism is one of the growth engines of economy and employment. Therefore, special focus is needed for further development of this sector, he added.

On the vast tourism potential in India, Birla said that our rich cultural heritage and diverse geography attract tourists from all over the world. There is tremendous potential in India in the fields of environment, spiritual, education and medical tourism. India’s domestic and foreign policy have provided an enabling environment for promotion of tourism. Our goal must be to make India the number one tourist destination. In this regard, more and more efforts should be made to develop tourist friendly destinations, the Speaker observed. Shri Birla emphasized on use of information technology tools in promoting tourism both at the domestic and international levels.

Speaking on the roadmap for boosting tourism, Birla suggested that ambitious and sustained efforts are needed to promote rural tourism. This will strengthen rural economy by creating demands for handicrafts and other rural products. Similarly, tourist destinations which are still secrets should be brought on the tourism map of India so that more and more people know about these destinations, he suggested.

Birla also launched NIDHI 2.0 (National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry) and released “India Tourism Statistics: At a Glance, 2021. NIDHI 2.0 data base which was released today will be a milestone in this endeavour, hoped Birla. The Ministry of Tourism, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) have signed an MoU to actively promote and support ‘sustainability initiatives’ in the tourism sector, which was also exchanged at the event.

Addressing the gathering, Reddy, said, "The tourism sector is one of those few sectors which have suffered a lot due to this pandemic and the early resumption of tourism is very important for the recovery and growth of this sector”. He added, “As on date, India has already administered over 85 crores vaccination doses to its citizens. With the ongoing aggressive vaccination strategy, we are now a step closer to the reopening of the country to tourism in the beginning of the new year. I am grateful to the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for his relentless focus on vaccination”.

He lauded the efforts of the Ministry and said “The National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) is the ministry’s portal to register accommodation units in the country and as on date 44,024 units have been registered on the portal which was activated on 08.06.2020”.

Reddy said, “The Prime Minister's vision has been to use Tourism as a tool for employment generation and inclusive development”. The Tourism Sector has the highest job creating potential among the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, he added. Earlier in the day, the Minister had penned an article in a leading newsdaily that highlighted the significance of the Tourism sector for Employment generation and inclusive growth. The Minister tweeted it through his social media platform.

The Union Minister, in his article, had written, “Various studies have shown that for an investment of 10 Lakh rupees, tourism can create as many as 78 jobs”. The article highlighted the Kevadia Model of tourism. The Minister had written how the construction of the Statue of Unity had put Kevadiaon the world map directly benefiting local communities in a 100 square kilometre radius and providing inclusive sustainable growth in the region. As India has a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage inscriptions, many iconic destinations - from Somnath in the Western shores of India to Kaziranga in the eastern part, 10 eco-friendly blue flag beaches, immense natural beauty and wildlife sanctuaries, innumerable intangible cultural heritage in the form of festivals, and performing arts. Each of these are destinations that people from across the world would happily be willing to visit and explore. Therefore, we have the opportunity to build tourism clusters around these destinations, similar to what was achieved in Kevadia,  so that local communities can benefit.

Naik, in his address said that the revival of Tourism plays an important role in the recovery of global economy. Tourism sustainability is relevant for both developed and developing countries for its impacts on the environment, economy, and socio-cultural aspects of global, regional, and local economies. Shri Naik added that by adopting Responsible Tourism practices, tourism plays an important role in the upliftment and involvement of the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, leading to empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism. He also informed that the ministry has planned a detailed strategy to utilize technology to the fullest extent to overcome the setback created by the pandemic.

Pololikashvili, in his video message, highlighted that tourism can help our societies to recover from the effect of pandemic and it can deliver hope to those who need it most. In many parts of the world, tourism has slowly started, and the growth of tourism must benefit every sector from big airlines to small family business and from the largest cities to the poor communities. This is what it means when we say we will leave nobody behind.He further added that “moving to the future, inclusive decisions will be key to the growth of our sector”.

Singh said that the Tourism Ministry is working tirelessly to revive the tourism sector which suffered greatly due to the Covid pandemic. It is possible to revive the tourism sector quickly by reviving demand especially of domestic tourism, he said. The Secretary said that the Ministry is holding regular talks with states, and tourism industry stakeholders to work out solutions to revive and support tourism.

Jyoti Mayal, Vice Chairperson, Federation of Association of Indian Tourism & Hospitality ; Rakesh Mathur , Founding Member & Honorary  President of RTSOI and Atul Bagai, Head UNEP India also expressed their views on how to revive the tourism sector in the post Covid scenario as well as promote Responsible and Sustainable Tourism that benefits the person at the last mile.

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