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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Inaugurates ITM 2021

Industry’s umbrella association, the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), kick-started its annual India Tourism Mart (ITM) with a physical inauguration Yesterday at ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi.

The inauguration was attended by Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog; Arvind Singh, Union Tourism Secretary along with other colleagues from the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India; office bearers of FAITH, Presidents of all association member of FAITH and other dignitaries. Union Tourism Minister (IC) Prahlad Singh Patel virtually addressed the inauguration. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Chief Guest for ITM 2021, also addressed the gathering virtually.

Welcoming the delegates, Subhash Goyal, Chairman, ITM 2021, said that the evet is being attended by more than 250 international buyers from over 60 countries and also over 300 domestic buyers.  He further said that 2020 was the darkest period in the history of the world and Tourism was the worst affected.  “All flights cancelled, visas suspended, our industry came to a grinding halt without any support from anywhere.  Millions became jobless.  Hundreds became homeless.  Survival seemed impossible and we were hanging on by a thin thread to remain afloat.  No matter what the size and scale of our business, all of us in the tourism industry faced the same difficult challenges of managing our workforce, maintaining our offices, and fulfilling our commitments, when we had no revenues coming in for months on end,” Goyal said and added that the timing of this event, syncs with this recovery phase, and is an opportune time for policy makers and thought leaders to come together and enable tourism.

Amitabh Kant delivered the keynote address and Nakul Anand, Chairman, FAITH introduced all the 10 Presidents of FAITH member associations and spoke about the vision of the Tourism Industry and the road ahead.

Harsh Vardhan, addressing the audience through video message, said that I have been given to understand that apart from Indian delegates there are International delegates from 60 countries attending this event virtually. “This is being organised at the right time when  due to the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Narinder Modi Ji  India has not only become the world’s largest manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccine but has also undertaken one of the world’s largest prevention programme.  We have already vaccinated about 10 million people but we have also sent millions of doses to most of our neighbouring countries and also all those countries who asked for Indian government’s help.  

“Every State of India has world class Hospitals and a lot of these Hospitals can be compared to the best in the world.  Indian doctors, nurses, Indian medical system and Indian Medical education are recognised and respected everywhere. They are in great demand by the hospitals of America, UK, Europe and Middle East.  India is also one of the largest exporters of medicine and pharmaceuticals. I understand that in the leadership conclave you also have a session on India Healing The world and Medical Tourism.         

“We were able to save millions of lives by imposing very strict lock down and once all the protocols and infrastructure was in place to help the Indian economy to revive we have slowly started unlocking our Country and today with the negative Covid 19 report 96 hours before their flight anyone from anywhere in the world can fly safely to India. 

“India has already signed an air bubble agreement with most of the countries and has undertaken the world’s largest repatriation movement. Thanks to Ministry of civil aviation and a national carrier Air India that most of the standard Indian nationals abroad and foreign nationals stranded in India were able to be repatriated safely to their homes. As soon as things are getting normalised we will further relax but maintain our safety protocols. 

“I am sure, you are already aware that 80% of our domestic flights are operating.  We have already started issuing medical visas and we are planning to soon restart E-Tourist Visas and schedule International flights in a phased manner. On a reciprocal basis, first with those countries with whom we have an air bubble agreement. The Ministry of health is fully supporting the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts in reviving International tourism to India.”

Speaking on the occasion, Meenakshi Sharma, DG, Ministry of Tourism, said that even though she is moving to another department of the Govt. of India, her heart will always remain in Tourism.  The new Secretary Tourism, Arvind Singh Ji assured the industry that he is working closely with all the concerned ministries to restart e-visa and international flights. 

Rakesh Verma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, spoke about the Knowledge Conclave which was being organized by KPMG.  The road ahead vision document prepared by FAITH & KPMG was released by Singh.  Rupinder Brar, ADG, Ministry of Tourism delivered the vote of thanks.

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