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
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