That Foot­loose Feel­ing

The first In­dia To­day Tourism Awards put on the map some of the coun­try’s riv­et­ing travel des­ti­na­tions and un­der­scored the sec­tor’s un­tapped po­ten­tial in con­tribut­ing to growth

India Today - - SPECIAL REPORT - By Sh­weta Punj

The many hues of In­dia’s her­itage and wildlife, and their un­lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties, came alive at the first in­dia to­day Tourism Awards held on April 20 in New Delhi. State tourism min­is­ters played brand am­bas­sadors, speak­ing about the hid­den trea­sures of Jhark­hand, Ut­tarak­hand, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, and fer­vently pitched for more cen­tral sup­port for the sec­tor.

“Tourism could be a game changer...the govern­ment of In­dia has sanc­tioned Rs 4,800 crore for theme-based cir­cuits across 29 states and Union ter­ri­to­ries un­der the Swadesh Dar­shan Yo­jana,” said Union tourism min­is­ter Dr Mahesh Sharma. “Rs 488 crore have been al­lo­cated for spir­i­tual tourism. It will take us about a year or so to com­plete these projects.”

in­dia to­day and global mar­ket re­search agency Ip­sos re­ceived 27 nom­i­na­tions for the six award cat­e­gories—ad­ven­ture, beaches and coastal, her­itage, moun­tains, wildlife and emerg­ing tourist des­ti­na­tion. The des­ti­na­tions were eval­u­ated on safety, in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties, and cul­ture and ac­tiv­i­ties.

While Sat­pal Ma­haraj, tourism min­is­ter of Ut­tarak­hand, sought faster clear­ances for ad­ven­ture and

“Hos­pi­tal­ity is an in­dus­try of smile, and smile can­not be achieved at gun­point. We want to give tourism to the pri­vate sec­tor” MAHESH SHARMA MoS, Cul­ture and Tourism

“Pun­jab has lessons to of­fer in pro­mot­ing her­itage tourism, and Haryana would be happy to ap­ply them” MANOHAR LAL KHATTAR Chief min­is­ter, Haryana

re­li­gious tourism projects in his state, Pasang Dor­jee Sona, par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary (tourism) for Arunachal Pradesh, called for more funds. The gala gather­ing was unan­i­mous that it was now time to take the In­cred­i­ble In­dia cam­paign for­ward by cre­at­ing new tourism des­ti­na­tions and of­fer­ing trav­ellers bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ences.

Haryana chief min­is­ter Manohar Lal Khattar said: “Pun­jab has lessons to of­fer in pro­mot­ing her­itage tourism, and Haryana would be happy to ap­ply them.”

In­dia’s travel and tourism sec­tor ranks sev­enth in the world in con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s GDP, gen­er­at­ing Rs 14.1 lakh crore in 2016 and cre­at­ing 40.3 mil­lion jobs. The good news is that nearly 88 per cent of the sec­tor’s con­tri­bu­tion to the GDP is driven by the do­mes­tic trav­eller, cre­at­ing im­mense po­ten­tial for in­creas­ing the foot­print of in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers.

Well­ness tourism and med­i­cal tourism have been iden­ti­fied by the govern­ment as some of the fo­cus ar­eas. Dr Sharma high­lighted some bold mea­sures the govern­ment in­tends to take to en­cour­age the pri­vate sec­tor in tourism. “Hos­pi­tal­ity is an in­dus­try of smile, and smile can­not be achieved at gun­point. We want to give tourism to the pri­vate sec­tor.”

TRAV­ELLERS’ CLUB Union tourism min­is­ter Dr Mahesh Sharma (cen­tre, in white) and In­dia To­day Group chair­man Aroon Purie with the award win­ners

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