A toast to 2014

TravTalk - India - - Statistic -

What a year it has been for us! As a new gov­ern­ment made its way to the Cen­tre, this year saw three tourism min­is­ters and two sec­re­taries for tourism. The year 2014 also saw tourism mak­ing its way to the man­i­festo of a po­lit­i­cal party for the first time. And what a cheer this move got from the en­tire travel and trade com­mu­nity!

The year also saw some dis­ap­point­ments as God’s Own Coun­try - Ker­ala – de­cided to go dry. This left the travel and hos­pi­tal­ity com­mu­nity high and dry as they con­tested the state’s liquor pol­icy.

While cer­tain is­sues con­tinue to plague the tourism in­dus­try, the big­gest achieve­ment of this year has been the an­nounce­ment of the Visa on Ar­rival en­abled by Elec­tronic Travel Au­tho­ri­sa­tion (ETA) for 43 coun­tries. This an­nounce­ment opens the win­dow to a plethora of op­por­tu­ni­ties for the In­dian tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. Al­ready, FTA in In­dia has wit­nessed a ma­jor growth this year and now it seems we are very well on our way to es­tab­lish our­selves as a prom­i­nent tourist des­ti­na­tion. The visa pol­icy of coun­tries is many a time a de­ter­rent for for­eign trav­ellers and now with In­dia eas­ing visa norms, we feel this is the right step to move ahead.

At the launch of the VoA scheme in Delhi, the Union Min­is­ter of State for Tourism (In­de­pen­dent Charge), Dr Ma­hesh Sharma, was be­ing grilled by the me­dia about In­dia’s open visa pol­icy and how it might trig­ger a ter­ror­ism threat in the coun­try, Dr Sharma at that time made a very per­ti­nent point, “We will fight Ter­ror­ism with Tourism.” Mov­ing ahead, this is the right sen­ti­ment to de­velop tourism in the coun­try.

The fact that the gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous about tourism is re­flected in the fact that an amount of ` 500 crore has also been pro­posed in the bud­get for the year 2014-15 for de­vel­op­ment of 5 tourism cir­cuits.

Un­der­stand­ing the is­sue of safety of tourists, MOT has also is­sued the Guide­lines on Safety and Se­cu­rity of Tourists for State Gov­ern­ments/Union Ter­ri­to­ries and Tips for Trav­ellers.

With a Gov­ern­ment so se­ri­ous to de­velop tourism, we too should pitch in as an in­dus­try and take In­dian tourism to new heights. As we bid goodbye to 2014, we wel­come 2015 and hope that the year ahead is bet­ter than the one that’s gone by. Cheers!

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