K.J. Alphons, Union Minister for Tourism (IC) recently presented the National Tourism Awards (2016-17) on the World Tourism Day, in New Delhi, in order to acknowledge the contribution made by stakeholders of the industry to promote and develop India as a tourism destination. This year, a total of 77 awards were presented to the tourism industry stakeholders, state governments, central agencies and individuals. While Andhra Pradesh bagged the first prize under the Best State/Union Territory: Comprehensive Development of Tourism (Rest of India); the second prize went to Kerala. Rajasthan and Goa emerged as winner of the third prize under the same category.
Madhya Pradesh bagged the Hall of Fame National Award which is given to a state for being judged the best one for tourism three years consecutive years. Moreover, Madhya Pradesh also won 10 other awards including Best Heritage Walk to Indore, Best Heritage City to Mandu, Best Adventure State shared with Uttarakhand, National Award for Swachhata to Indore and Best Airport Award to Indore's Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport. Gujarat bagged three awards including for the Best Civic Management (at Saputara Hill Station), Best Heritage City-Ahmedabad (jointly with Mandu), and the Best Airport-Ahmedabad.
Alphons also launched the ‘Incredible India Mobile App’ and the “Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification” programme.
Congratulating the awardees, Alphons shared the concern that the tourism sector needs to improve its hospitality services since it is the hospitality offered which is the distinguishing feature of India and gives it an edge over other countries. He also added that it is the responsibility of every citizen to build the image of the country as safe for anyone to travel.
He also announced that, India will be the host country for official World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO, in 2019. The theme for the World Tourism Day 2018 being “Tourism & Digital Transformation”, the Minister recounted the various digital initiatives taken by the ministry in harnessing technology for tourism promotion, which include, launch of a new Incredible India website; 24 X7 Chat bot interface on this website; launch of a new website on Buddhism in India and many more initiatives..
Delivering the welcome address, Rashmi Verma, Union Tourism Secretary, said that in the last four years, India has aggressively implemented its promotion strategies in branding, advertising, and selling of its tourism potentials. She congratulated the industry stakeholders without whose partnership the achievements in the Tourism sector in the last few years, would not have been possible.