I’ll focus on generating jobs in tourism: Kumari Selja

June 21st, 2009 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Aamir Khan New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) Kumari Selja, the young minister for tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation, is thinking jobs. She wants to alleviate urban poverty by establishing a convergence between the portfolios she holds.
“My focus will be to create more employment in the tourism sector from the urban grassroots to create a manpower pool for the travel trade and address poverty in cities across the country,” Selja, 46, told IANS.

There is a huge employment potential in the tourism sector, the minister said.

“Estimates cite that the tourism sector needs at least 200,000 people to cater to the country’s growing tourism needs. I would like to recruit from among the ‘aam admi’ (common man) at the drivers, cooks, caretakers and guides level. Tourism provides an excellent job opportunities for the educated unemployed,” the minister said.

India’s tourism sector is booming. According to government statistics, in 2007, five million tourists, who visited India spent nearly $11.5 billion.

The World Tourism Organisation 2020 vision cites that the total tourist arrivals in India by 2010 would be 5.08 million. The figure will touch 8.9 million by 2020.

“I would also like to create a convergence between urban poverty alleviation and hospitality and tourism by creating more jobs for the youth in cities by cashing in on this boom. We need well trained manpower for the whole country, not only for tourism,” said the minister, who is the Congress MP from Ambala in Haryana.

Selja is in her second term as a minister. She had earlier held the housing and urban poverty alleviation portfolio in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The minister, the daughter of Dalit leader Chaudhury Dalbir Singh, began her career as a Mahila Congress worker in 1990 and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Sirsa in Haryana in 1991.

“I would like to promote rural, medical and eco-tourism to showcase the incredible India brand,” the minister said.

Tourism is rather new to me, admitted the minister.

“I have just been appointed the tourism minister. But I am very impressed with the Incredible India campaign both in the country and abroad. I was very impressed by the impact of the campaign in London when I was there recently. In fact, I just heard in the US a few days ago that they were talking about the Incredible India campaign and wondering why couldn’t they have a campaign like that!” the minister said.

The tourism minister also likes the Incredible India advertisement campaigns. “Especially, the one featuring Aamir Khan spreading the message of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava (guest is god)’ as the Incredible India brand ambassador,” she laughed.

“But I am also struck by other campaigns. They are very good, whether in India or abroad. They inform about all that is happening around us and what we are offering to the tourists who visit India,” she said.

“My objective will be to promote India as the most incredible of destinations abroad,” she said.

However, urban poverty alleviation also figures highly on Selja’s agenda. “I am very serious about improving the lot of the urban poor. Since I took over, the budget for the urban poverty alleviation department has increased from Rs.5 billion to Rs.70 billion,” the minister said.

She released a book on Indian tourism, “Branding India: An Incredible Story” by Amitabh Kant, principal secretary and special commissioner (industries), government of Kerala, Saturday.

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