Subodh Kant Sahai calls for more thrust on domestic tourism

March 14th, 2011 - 8:08 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Mar 14 (ANI): Asserting that the huge size of domestic tourism helps to sustain the industry irrespective of the variations in international travel, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai on Monday called for more stress on domestic tourism.

Chairing the first meeting of the reconstituted National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC) here, Sahai opined that there is a need to enhance facilities at our major pilgrimage centres, which receive a large number of visitors.

“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,” said Sahai.

“States need to be pro-actively engaged in sensitizing them to the huge untapped potential which tourism holds for employment generation and economic development,” he added.

Underlining the need to maintain quality of tourism facilities and services offered so that they are at par with the best in the World, Sahai said: “We must keep pace with changing trends and requirements of the overseas and domestic travellers, who are increasingly becoming more demanding.”

“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 added.

Talking about Infrastructure development, Sahai said it holds the key to India’s sustained growth in the tourism sector.

Therefore, the Ministry of Tourism has been making efforts to develop quality tourism infrastructure at tourist destinations and circuits.

The Ministry has launched a scheme for development of nationally and internationally important destinations and circuits through Mega Projects.

So far, 38 mega projects have been identified out of which 26 projects have been sanctioned. The mega projects are a judicious mix of culture, heritage, spiritual and ecotourism in order to give the tourists a holistic perspective.

Summing up the discussions, Tourism Secretary RH Khwaja said that his Ministry has been working in close cooperation with the private sector for development of tourism in India.

He expressed the hope that views emerging out of the discussions held today would help the Ministry as well as the hospitality and travel industry to take longer strides in achieving our common goal of positioning tourism as an engine of economic growth.

Briefing media persons after the meeting, Subodh Kant Sahai said that he has already taken up the issue of service tax on hotel tariffs above Rs.1000 with the Finance Minister and will again speak to him on this.

“The tourism circuits in the country should be developed on the pattern of JNNURM. Tourism should be developed as a employment generation scheme and he would take up this issue with the States,” he said.

The Tourism Minister informed that five sub groups of NTAC are being set up to formulate action plans in various fields of Tourism. These groups will be on promotion and marketing; infrastructure; taxation and facilitation; human resource development; and heritage, rural and eco tourism.

NTAC is a ‘Think Tank’ constituted by the government and comprises experts from various fields, representatives of industry associations like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, PHDCCI, FHRAI, HAI, IATO, TAAI, ITTA, ADTOI, ATOI, IHHA, ICPB as well as Ministries of Finance, Culture, External Affairs, Urban Development, Road Transport and Highways and Planning Commission and advises the Government on various aspects of tourism with the objective of promoting domestic and foreign tourism in the country. (ANI)

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