The recently concluded 9th Annual Convention -cum - Exhibition of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators (ADTOI) in Ahmadabad discussed some pertinent issues about driving the growth of domestic tourism in India. The Convention also offered showcasing the diverse tourism product profile of Gujarat to over 400 attending delegates.
Addressing the audience through a video conference, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani welcomed all delegates to the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. “Gujarat is truly blessed with diverse arts and handicrafts, rich heritage, and several pilgrimage sites, and has become a destination of choice for tourists from across India and the world. I invite you all to contribute to the further growth of tourism in the state,” Rupani said
The Convention was inaugurated by Vasanbhai Ahir, Tourism Minister of Gujarat alongwith Pradeepsingh Jadeja, Minister of State - Home, Energy, Legislative and Parliamentary affairs, Law and Justice, (State Minister) Police Housing, Border Security, Civil Defence, Gram Rakshak Dal, Jail, Prohibition Excise, Co-ordination of voluntary organizations, Non-resident Gujaratis Division, Protocol (All Independent Charge), Govt of Gujarat. Highlighting the tourism potential of the state, Jadeja said that Gujarat has been a favourite destination among tourists from the security point of view.
Speaking on the occasion, Ahir said that tourism has the potential to create maximum employment and livelihood opportunities for the people in the hinterlands where there are hardly any avenues for socio-economic development. “A live example of this is the impact of Kutch Rannotsav around the White Rann. No other economic activity is possible in the area, but Kutch Rannotsav has created new means of livelihood generation and opened doors for economic development of the people,” Ahir said.
Congratulating ADTOI to bring the convention away from metro cities to the India’s first heritage city, Aashima Mehrotra, Director, Ministry of Tourism, said that this convention will not only generate the required impetus but also give us a robust domestic tourism that generates employment. “Domestic tourism has been a major contributor in overall tourism growth and it has to go a long way to support tourism...We are also focused on holistic development of tourism destinations. In Gujarat, we are working on a holistic development of Somnath and Dholavira as iconic sites. The Master Plan is being finalized for their development. Other tourist sites in Gujarat have been selected under the ‘Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchan’ scheme,” she said and added that this year we are also celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi and the city of Ahmedabad has been very close to the life of the Gandhi. She suggested collaboration amongst various stakeholders for a sustainable growth of the tourism,” she added.
S.J. Haider, Principal Secretary (Tourism, Devsthanam Management & Pilgrmage), Govt of Gujarat said that the state has emerged as one of the best tourism destination in the country with tourist arrivals touching 5.5 crores. “Gujarat is blessed with various attractions like scenic beaches, sanctuaries, desert, Indus valley, archaeological sites, India’s first smart city, first world heritage city and legacy of Mahatama Gandhi and Sardar Patel. In the last one year, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated two monuments - the Statue of Unity at Narmada and the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi. Both these monuments are attracting a large number of tourists,” he said and added that the Statue of Liberty attracting 10,000 visitors daily and National Salt Satyagrah Memorial at Dandi is drawing 4000 visitors per day. “There is an immense potential in the field of tourism. When we talk about the domestic tourism, there is a lot of untapped potential where we ourselves yet to explore India. There are a lot of socio-economic activities taking place so our purpose is not just to boost tourism but also strengthen the economy of the state,” Haider added.
Ashwani Lohani, CMD, Air India said that Air India will soon announce family packages to encourage people to discover places associated with country's culture and heritage. “Domestic tourism is the mainstay of tourism. Tourism is one sector which has the maximum impact on the state. It has the highest multiplier effect and least investment,” Lohani said and added that there is a need to promote inter-state and intra-state tourism in the country. He opined that the main elements of tourism are : Soochana (Information), Suvidha (Facilitations), Suraksha (Safety), Sanrnrachna (Infrastructure) and Sahyog (Cooperation). Gujarat ranks at the top on all these fronts and possess immense potential in tourism.
P P Khanna, President, ADTOI and Chairman of the Convention, said that Gujarat is among one of the 10th states in India that received the maximum number domestic travel in 2018. “Our domestic tourist visits stand at 1.70 billion. Still, we are at number 3 position in the world after US and China,” he said and added that while every domestic tourists travel 5 times in US domestically, Chinese takes three trip in a year domestically. “This ratio is 1.25 for India. But with the growth in infrastructure and efforts of State Tourism Boards we expect India will be number one in the world by 2025,” he said.
Lauding the efforts of Gujarat government on tourism promotion, Khanna said four aspects are needed for the growth of tourism in the states i.e. safety, security, cleanliness and connectivity. “Gujarat has a good infrastructure and we hope that in another 2-3 years, it will also have a very good connectivity by air, rail and road,” he said and asked for the air connectivity to Somnath. He also demanded the exemption of GST on domestic tourism to encourage people to visit India. Citing the address of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 73rd Independence Day that every Indian should visit 15 domestic destinations by 2022, he said that the government should support the realisation of the Prime Minister’s vision by exempting domestic tourism from the GST.
Chetan Gupta, General Secretary, ADTOI, said in his welcome speech that Gujarat has a great tourism potential and people of the state is warm and hospitable.