New strategies needed to help tourism growth: SahayMarch 14th, 2011 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay Monday said that India can “ill-afford to be satisfied” with the growth in the sector and new marketing strategies need to be planned as both domestic and foreign tourists have become “more demanding” about better facilities and services.
Chairing his first meeting of the ministry think-tank National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC) here, Sahay said the quality of tourism facilities and services should be maintained so that they were at par with the best in the world.
The NTAC comprises experts from various fields, including members from business chambers CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) and PHDCCI (Punjab, Haryana and Delhi Chamber of Commerce and Industry).
It advises the government on various aspects of tourism with the objective of attracting domestic and foreign travellers.
“We must keep pace with the changing trends and requirements of the overseas and domestic travellers, who are increasingly becoming more demanding,” he said.
“We can ill-afford to be satisfied with the growth of the tourism sector seen in the last decade. We have to improve our products, plan carefully, refine our marketing strategies and bolster our efforts for sustainable growth of this vital industry,” he said.
Sahay laid emphasis on developing lesser-known destinations to boost the industry and generate employment.
“The lesser-known destinations in the country need to be developed so that the benefits of tourism activities reach far and wide and contribute in balanced regional growth of the country,” he said.
The minister said that states need to be “pro-active” on tapping the “huge untapped potential” which tourism holds for employment generation and economic development.
“The huge size of domestic tourism helps to sustain the industry irrespective of variations in international travel. A majority of the domestic travel is for pilgrimages. There is a need to enhance facilities at our major pilgrimage centres which receive a large number of visitors,” he said.
Sahay said that infrastructure development holds the key to India’s sustained growth in the tourism sector. In this direction, he said, the ministry was “making efforts to develop quality tourism infrastructure at tourist destinations and circuits”.
A scheme has been launched to develop nationally and internationally important destinations and circuits through mega projects, he added.
“So far, 38 mega projects have been identified, out of which 26 projects have been sanctioned. Mega projects are a judicious mix of culture, heritage, spiritual and eco-tourism in order to give the tourists a holistic perspective,” he added.
Tourism Secretary R.H. Khwaja said they were working in close cooperation with the private sector for development of tourism.
Over 5.5 million foreign tourists visited India in 2010, an increase of 8.1 percent over the previous year. In 2009, 5.17 million foreign travellers visited India, while 5.28 million visited the country in 2008.
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