Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel held a virtual meeting with 15 State Tourism Ministers/Officials yesterday in New Delhi. Tourism Minister of Rajasthan Govind Singh Dotasara, Tourism Minister of Uttar Pradesh Neelkanth Tiwari, Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Minister of Goa i Manohar Ajgaonkar, Tourism Minister of Maharashtra Aaditya Thackeray, Tourism Minister of Madhya Pradesh Usha Thakur and Tourism Minister of Gujarat Jawahar Chavda participated in the virtual meeting and some of the States/UTs were represented by officials. Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Yogendra Tripathi; DG, Tourism, Meenakshi Sharma and other senior officials of the Tourism Ministry also attended the meeting.
The agenda of meeting includes facilitating ease of travel between States/UTs for promoting domestic tourism, incentives being offered by States/UTs, working on system for assessment, awareness and training for hospitality industry (SAATHI) for the adherence of safety norms.
Speaking on the occasion, Patel said that tourism sector is amongst the worst hit sectors during COVID-19 pandemic but with mutual support we are continuously talking to its stakeholders and have taken some initiatives for revival of the tourism sector and hoped that tourism sector will pick up pace again soon.
He stressed on the use of SAATHI and NIDHI initiatives of the Tourism Ministry which are becoming very crucial during current situation. He said that earlier we only had 1400 registrations of hotels with us but because of NIDHI initiative now we have 27000 hotels registered with us and the number is growing regularly. It gives us more reliable data of the tourists and hospitality industry. He also said that the use of SAATHI initiative will build confidence in tourists as it helps hospitality industry in preparedness to continue operations safely and mitigate risks arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patel said that even before the pandemic the Prime Minister already initiated 'DekhoApnaDesh' campaign and in the current situation we should focus on domestic tourism under this campaign, it will help to revive the tourism sector of our country. He urged all the Ministers to identify new places of tourism which can attract domestic tourists. He also urged that in order to promote tourism during these times all states should come up with a uniform protocol for interstate movement of tourists so that tourists can travel hassle free.
He informed that Tourism Ministry is planning to develop a platform which will have all information regarding state roads, hotels and other facilities of all tourist destinations. It will also have updated information regarding weather and other tourism related information, he added. Shri Patel requested all states to provide such information to Tourism Ministry so that the platform can be started soon.
The Union Minister also stressed on the better connectivity of the tourist attractions. He said that better connectivity will increase tourists flow in remote areas also. Patel said that Tourism Ministry has shared draft Tourism policy with states and states should also formulate their policies in the line of Tourism Ministry's policy. He also urged all states to give their valuable suggestions to enrich Tourism policy.
The Union Tourism Minister also informed about the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification program (IITF) which is an online program to train guides and is seen as a potential employment generator at the Pan India level. Currently the program has almost 6000 persons enrolled and with the qualified persons eventually coming on the e-marketplace, the program is seen as having a huge potential in transforming the tourist experience in terms of guiding and showcasing India.