PROMOTING INDIA AS A HOLISTIC DESTINATION
Being a part of Civil Aviation Ministry as well as Tourism, what are the major priorities of your Department? The major priorities of the Ministry of tourism are to Increase India’s share in world tourist arrivals from the present 0.68% to 1% by 2020 and increase it to 2% by 2025. political and economic agenda. development, which is Governmentled, private sector driven and community welfare oriented. mechanism between the Centre and the States, I UTS and between various Ministries / Departments to drive the National Tourism Agenda. communities and the natural and cultural environments. hygienic environment for tourists. destinations based on India’s unique civilization, heritage, and culture in partnership with States I UTS, private sector and other agencies. preferred tourism destination in overseas markets. driver of tourism growth. the tourism and hospitality sectors. investment.
What have been the major achievements so far in your tenure?
Tourism is high on priority of our Government. Our Government is laying special emphasis on the Tourism Sector because tourism is a major generator of employment. To achieve the desired goal, we have taken several initiatives and some of the major achievements of the Ministry of Tourism are as follows: (Davos) Report, 2015, on Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, India has moved 13 positions ahead from 65’” to 52nd rank. India between June 2014 and April 2015 was 7.31million with a growth of 7.53% against the same period of the previous year. The Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) from the tourism sector between June 2014 and April 2015 was Rs. 1, 14, 255 crores with a growth rate of 9.49% against the same period of the previous year. introduced for 113 countries and to be extended to another 37 countries in the Financial Year 2015-16. ETA enables the prospective foreign visitor to apply
Possessing an inborn quality of leadership, he has proven capability of managing the business affairs efficiently. A medical practitioner who won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, took oath as Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation in the Narendra Modi government, Union Minister of State for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, spoke about the future of aviation and tourism in India with Puja Banerjee
for an Indian Visa from his/her home country online without visiting the Indian Mission and also pay the visa fee online. a ‘Welcome Booklet’ for distribution at immigration counters to tourists arriving at international airports. The ‘Welcome Booklet contains information on Dos and Don’ts for tourists. Contact details of India Tourism domestic offices and ‘Tourist Helpline Number’. The booklet is intended to be a helpful aid to foreign tourists immediately on arrival. a 24 x 7 “Incredible India Help Line” in December 2014 to provide the tourist valuable information and guide them during emergencies. It is intended to provide a sense of security to the tourists. This service is available toll free on telephone no. 1800111363 or on a short code 1363. SWADESH DARSHAN for integrated development of theme based circuits - 12 circuits initially identified under SWADESH DARSHAN - North East Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Eco Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Wild Life Circuit and Desert Circuit. Launched in pursuance of the Budget Announcements of 201415, Swadesh Darshan Scheme aims at integrated development of circuits having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner, promoting cultural heritage of the country, developing world-class infrastructure in circuit destinations, pro-poor tourism approach, promoting local arts, handicrafts, cuisine and generating employment and (ii) National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) for improvement and beautification of pilgrimage sites of all faiths. This scheme aims at integrated development of pilgrimage destinations to provide complete religious and spiritual tourism experience. 12 cities have been identified for implementation in the first phase, i.e. Varanasi, Amritsar, Mathura, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Velankanni, Dwarka, Puri, Amravati, Kedarnath and Kamakhya. Four projects, one each for Gaya and Puri and 2 for Mathura have been sanctioned under PRASAD in 2014-15. Kadam’ launched - The HSRT, a programme to create employable skills, was opened in December, 2014 for private participation under a distinct vertical titled “Hunar Se Rozgar Tak: Badhte Kadam”. The objective is to enhance the programme’s reach and delivery. The trades opened are food Production, food & Beverage Service, Housekeeping and Bakery & Patisserie. (Hunar Zaika): Launched in December 2014,this programme aims at upgrading the skills and hygiene standards of Street Food Vendors. As part of the orientation, the vendors are also sensitized to personal, environmental and waste disposal hygiene. The initiative converges two important initiatives of the Government - ‘Skill India’ and ‘Clean India’. Funds provided under this programme by the Ministry of Tourism include compensation to the vendors for the income loss during the duration of orientation. The programme has seen certification of more than 2800 vendors between December 2014 and June 2015. The Ministry targets orientation of at least 12000 vendors during the year 2015-16. set up Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) at Tirupati with its regional centre at Noida. The main objective of setting up ICI is to institutionalize mechanism to support efforts intended to preserve, document, promote and disseminate the Indian Cuisine, meet the sectoral requirement of specialists and teachers specific to Indian Cuisine and promote cuisine as a Niche Tourism Product. These institutes would also have an international tie-up with the best available global options. 2015 held in Berlin in March 2015, the Indian Pavilion set up by the Ministry of Tourism won the 2nd place for the Best Stand in the Asia, Australia and Oceania category. At the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa 2015 held in Cape Town, South Africa in April 2015, the India Tourism Stand of the Ministry
of Tourism received the ‘Best Feature Award’ from M/s Reed Travel Expo. into Mous/ Agreements with the following countries for cooperation Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism during the State visit of the Prime Minister of India to Australia on 18th November 2014. (ii) The Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism during the State visit of the Prime Minister of India to Nepal on 25’” November 2014. (iii) A Letter of Intent between the of the Republic of India and the Government of The French Republic for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism was signed on 9th April, 2015. (iv) An Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of People’s Republic of China for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism was signed on 1st May, 2015.
Quality or Infrastructure and connectivity has been termed as the major issues for lndian Tourism Sector. What is the Government doing to address these concerns in the next three years?
Ministry of Tourism is seized of the issues related to the development of world class infrastructure and better connectivity in various tourism destinations in the country. The two new schemes for development of tourism infrastructure in the country launched during 201415 will also address both these issues. Under Swadesh Darshan, integrated development of theme based circuits has been taken up for holistic and inclusive development which can provide engaging and complete tourism experience to both domestic and foreign tourists. The Scheme envisage enhancement of tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner by developing world class infrastructure in the circuit destination. The PRASAD Scheme guidelines envisage the integrated development of pilgrimage destinations in a planned, prioritized and sustainable manner to provide complete religious tourism experience to both domestic and foreign tourists. Under these new schemes, it has been proposed to improve the connectivity between various tourism destinations in the identified circuits. It has also been proposed to provide funds for development of helipads, heliports, air-strips, ropeways required for tourists in the identified circuits, the improvement of connectivity leading to tourist sites/destinations, development and up-gradation of passenger terminals such as road, rail and water-transport, procurement of equipment for ecofriendly modes of tourist transport, etc. The new schemes also have provisions for improvement in communication through telephone booths, mobile services and internet connectivity. At present we have about 125 airports, out of which 30 are non- functional ones. It has to be a winwin situation for the airline operators also. Therefore, we have proposed to take the aviation facilities to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, but connecting the remote areas directly will not be possible as of now, it is a gradual process.
Foreign tourists face a lot of harassment in India. What are the special initiatives being taken by the government?
We have started a training programme
for aviation personnel, through our Ministry of Tourism, where we propose training from every angle, also the CISF staff, or the immigration counter people, to display courtesy and hospitality as part of the tourism culture, we have trained them, especially so the foreign tourists who are females are not harassed in any way. i)the Ministry of Tourism, on a pilot basis, has set up the ‘Incredible India Help Line’ to address and guide the tourists during any emergencies which may include medical, crime, natural calamities or on being stranded. This service will be available as toll free on telephone 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 and is accessible 24x7 and 365 to provide authentic information to tourists and also guide them during emergencies once they are in India. ii) Grant of Central Financial assistance to Governments of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh for setting up of Tourist Facilitation and Security Organisation (TFSO) on a pilot basis. iii)adoption of code of conduct for Safe Tourism, which contains a set of guidelines to encourage tourism activities to be undertaken with respect to basic rights like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents, in particular women and children. iv)all the Chief Ministers of the State Governments and Administrators of Union Territory Administrations have been asked to take immediate effective steps for ensuring a conducive and friendly environment for all tourists and also request them to publicize the steps being taken/proposed to be taken to increase the sense of security amongst the present/prospective visitors and also to counter the negative publicity. v) In the wake of some unfortunate incidents involving foreign tourists, Ministry of Tourism has also posted an advisory on its website www.incredible india.org. vi)ministry of Tourism has advised all the State Governments/union Territory Administrations to deploy Tourist Police in the States /Union Territories. The State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have deployed Tourist Police, in one form or the other.
What are the future initiatives in the aviation sector? Tell us about the predating prices of the Airlines.
With the increase and the expected increase in the aviation hub, India is going to reach from world ranking 9 to position 3 by 2020. It is in need of a revamp, thus we have taken out an aviation policy, where we have tried to address all the issues related to Aviation, DGCA, Pawanhans and Airport Authority of India, where we have defined them with a different perspective. With this policy we are sure that there would be major changes in the future. We can bring up airports at Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. We want to relax the processing of DGCA as a regulator authority, where we want to make the rules and the guidelines transparent and user friendly. At present there is a discussion with the Ministry, about the predating prices whether it should be there or not. So in the first phase we would request the airlines, as we understand that there is hardly 1 to 2 per cent of the travellers’ pay that is being the predated price. So we have requested the airlines to have a consent on the issue, rather than using the regulator. Talking of Air India, in ten years they have shown a profit of about 2200 crores, though with heavy debts it will take some time to bring the operational profit, whereas the on time operation of Air India has increased from 67 to 82 per cent. We also propose the air connectivity as a part of tourism. Ranging from the Himalayas to the North East down to South India, we want to use the facilities as an enhancement in the tourism sector of India.
The Government is also planning to relaunch incredible India 2.0? Please tell us about this project?
Promotion and Publicity of India as a tourist destination is an ongoing activity. The Ministry of Tourism promotes India as a holistic destination in the domestic and international markets. As part of its promotional activities, the Ministry releases campaigns in the international and domestic markets under the Incredible India brand-line and showcases various tourism destinations and products including its cultural heritage. In addition to this, the Ministry of Tourism promotes various tourism destinations and products through its websites and publicity and promotional material produced by it from time to time. Various promotional activities are also undertaken through it domestic and overseas India Tourism Offices.
Union Minister of State for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma, with Hon’ble Prime Minister, Narendra Modi
Dr. Mahesh Sharma with Civil Aviation Minister, Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju