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States need to build synergies for domestic tourism to grow

In order to tap the domestic tourism market, State Tourism Departments need to come forward and work with utmost synergy. This was the concluding message of the recently organized Tourism E-Conclave by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) that brought Tourism Ministers from 6 states on a digital platform along with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to discuss about the ways and means of re-starting tourism in the country.

Speaking about the resumption of tourism, Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India said, “While we are going through extremely challenging times for tourism and hospitality, it has given us an opportunity to dive deep and delve in Incredible India, which earlier focused a lot on the inbound market, but somewhere we were not exploring it both as travelers and also business opportunities. It is now a huge opportunity and a challenge on how to pitch the products of India to the Indians. The whole narrative that the Prime Minister has built about Atma Nirbharta can be seen at various levels. This is not an inward-looking view, but we should also develop our own domestic tourism.”

Brar opined that there needs to be synergies between the states. “There should be a seamless movement of travellers. It’s a tricky time, but soon we will be in a time where there is more stability. We are in discussion with all states. Neighbouring states must have synergies to develop packages. The protocols are in place and we need to do some more work. There should be a harmony amongst all states and rules shouldn’t be very different. We also need to instill confidence amongst travellers. We are somewhere failing in showcasing the unexplored beauty of our nation,” she added.

Madhya Pradesh is now looking to develop the state as a unique destination for spiritual tourism. The state is looking to setup facilities to enhance spiritual experiences.

Usha Thakur, Minister Tourism, Culture & Adhyatm, Govt of Madhya Pradesh said, “Covid-19 has surely impacted the entire globe; tourism has been the most affected. Madhya Pradesh has done a lot of meetings to restart tourism and restore this segment. We will be focusing on rural tourism now where we can generate employment and tourists can get a unique experience. We also want to develop Madhya Pradesh as a spiritual destination for the domestic market. We will arrange facilities for meditation, yoga, Vedic library and a lot of elements which will give a holistic spiritual experience.”

Gujarat has close to 1600 kms of coastline, which is still now developed and promoted for tourism. The state which has been successful in promoting the Rann of Kutch has now started looking at the coastal circuit. Speaking about the plans Vasanbhai Ahir, Tourism Minister of State, Govt of Gujarat, “Gujarat is a tourist-friendly state, and there are several iconic places to visit in Gujarat, all of which are steeped in a certain charm and history. We have a long coastline and we are now focusing to develop this circuit. We have various facets of tourism in Gujarat, a lot of unexplored destinations which we want to promote. we have something for all kind of travellers. The new Statue of Unity is attracting travellers from throughout the globe and also is a huge employment generator. We will surely look for a way to promote the destination despite the challenges of covid-19.”

Kerala is keen to work with neighboring states to enhance interstate tourism. The state government is also looking at setting up schemes to support reinstate the tourism industry.  “Kerala Tourism will work together with other state tourism departments so that a tourist travelling from one state to another has a hassle-free experience. We expect to welcome guests in the next one or two months. We are starting off by reviving domestic tourism, first within our own state, followed by other states. An action plan for the revival of the tourism sector is being drawn up and several support schemes are under the consideration of the Kerala Government, including assistance to tourism stakeholders and employees. We are sure we’ll defeat all odds and make a remarkable comeback. The strong synergy between the private and public sector will be a key driving force on our road to recovery,” Kadakampally Surendran, Tourism Minister, Government of Kerala, said.

One of the less explored destinations, Chhattisgarh has now increased its tourism budget by over 70 per cent to promote the segment. The state is also incentivizing and providing subsidy for the development and promotion of tourism. Tamradhwaj Sahu, Minister of Public Works, Department Home, Jail, Dharmik Nyas and Dharmasv, Tourism, Government of Chhattisgarh said, “We have a lot of tourism opportunities in Chhattisgarh. Our CM has taken a keen interest on developing tourism segment. We have increased our tourism budgets by 70 per cent and we are also giving an industry status to this segment. The best way to overcome the setbacks in the tourism industry which has been suffered due to the COVID-19 is to promote local tourism so that local tourists are attracted. We will focus on developing water sports at all the prominent dams and water bodies of the state to attract tourism in Chhattisgarh. We have also developed a lot of tourism infrastructure to provide a better experience for travellers. The forest areas which we have, and tribal tourism is something unique which travellers should explore. We have also announced a lot of subsidy to promote this sector. We are also looking to develop mining tourism.”

Odisha has picked up as a leisure tourism destination in the recent years. The state earlier known for its spiritual destination, has various attractions which are still less explored. The state is now looking to waive-off various charges to ease the burden on tourism segment.

Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature & Culture, Government of Odisha added, “The pandemic has hit the backbone of the tourism industry in Odisha. We are focussing on the completion of development work and product enhancement in the state. To encourage the hospitality industry, the government has decided to waive-off the fixed charges on electricity and the bar license fee for the hotels in the state. This Industry needs energy and synergy to move ahead.”

With tourism being a huge employment generator, Karnataka is looking to bring the segment back on track by initiating a new campaign. The state believes that tourism will bounce back soon and has also announced its protocols and SOPs for safe tourism.

CT Ravi, Minister of Tourism, Kannada and Culture, Youth Empowerment & Sports, Government of Karnataka, “The tourism sector is an important economic driver for Karnataka and the sector will emerge from this crisis stronger, resilient, and better. The government of Karnataka has launched ‘Love your native’ campaign, which seeks to ensure the livelihood of those dependent solely on tourism and assure the people that with appropriate safety and hygiene in place, a slow return to normalcy is possible.”

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