Inaugurated by former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, the workshop saw the presence of a number of central ministers, Member of Parliaments, senior officials from various ministries, academia, NGOs, travel trade representatives, and the media. The initiative has been taken in the wake of significant development of tourist spots, where dirtiness has proved to be the main hurdle in enticing tourists. The campaign also aims at creating a collective mindset of hygiene and cleanliness by employing a balance of persuasion, education, sensitisation, training, demonstration and regulation for achieving its goal. In his inaugural address, Kalam said that clean environment empowers society. “Our growth has to be sustainable and also must ensure that it does not make environment non-livable for posterity. In addition, the nation has to ensure that we are in a clean-green environment, which will attract national and international tourists to our tourism centres,” the former President said adding that this action is vital for enhancing the growth rate in tourist arrivals. He suggested that the cleanliness drive should be extended to places of worship as large numbers of people gather there. He also urged the union tourism ministry to study and adopt the Maldivian model of tourism and evolve a total package of turn key tourist systems to be developed by tourist system partners that should include maintenance and upkeep of tourist destinations. He also suggested involvement of village panchayats and local self governing bodies in the campaign. Speaking on the occasion, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai said lack of or inadequate personal and environmental cleanliness will have a pull-down impact on the image-India, the worst hit being the tourism sector where the first impression of a visitor is often his last. “The success of this campaign is crucial to achieving the targeted growth rate of 12 per cent in in-bound and domestic tourist arrivals during the 12th Plan,” Sahai added. He informed that his ministry will finalise and plan the campaign strategy, incorporating the workshop recommendations, by 31 March, 2012 and the implementation will start from 1 April, 2012. “The campaign will be expected to correct these weaknesses. The success of the campaign may decide if the targeted growth specific to tourism would be achieved. This ultimately gets connected to job creations. The campaign is taken as a poverty alleviation strategy too,” he added. Supporting the campaign, Dinesh Trivedi, Union Minister for Railways said, “The most daunting task of the Railways is not safety and security, but keeping the train and station surroundings neat and tidy,” he said.
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