4 years of Modi govt: When showcasing India's rich cultural heritage became a priority
Tourism and Hospitality sector has been universally recognised as an agent of development and an engine for socio-economic growth.
In the last four years, the Ministry of Tourism led by minister Alphons Kannanthanam has undertaken several initiatives to provide much needed boost to the sector.
Among several initiatives launched are Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD, revamping of existing schemes such as Hunar se Rozgar tak, extending e-Tourist Visas to more countries, developing a Mobile Application for Tourists, introducing an Incredible India Tourist Helpline, and undertaking various skill development initiatives.
According to a Ministry of Tourism release, the rank of India in International Tourist Arrivals in both 2014 and 2015 in the latest UNWTO's World Tourism Barometer (for March 2017) is 24 as against the previous ranks of 41 and 40 in the year 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The last 4 years has seen a total jump of 25 places in the world travel and tourism index. Reflects the importance government is giving to tourism.
Let's take a look at some of the major initiatives and achievements in the tourism sector
India 2.0 campaign: To double number of local tourists
The government is revamping its strategy to market India as a preferred destination for both foreign as well as domestic tourists, with an eye on doubling traffic from both segments. A fresh Incredible India 2.0 campaign, backed by an interactive new website on India's tourism hotspots was launched in 2017 on World Tourism Day.
The President launched the "Incredible India 2.0 Campaign"; 'Adopt A Heritage' Project and new Incredible India Website on 27th September, 2017.
- Campaign marks a shift from the present generic promotions being undertaken across the world, to market specific promotional plans and product specific creatives, with greater focus on digital presence and social media.
- The Incredible India 2.0 Campaign is being released in the prime existing markets as well as important potential markets.
- Niche tourism products like Heritage Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Rural Tourism, Wellness & Medical Tourism, MICE, Golf, etc. are being promoted through the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign.
Paryatan Parv to boost tourism
Paryatan Parv was organised in October, 2017 covering 31 States and Union Territories. The main objective of the event was to focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of "Tourism for All".
- The event included cultural performances, food festivals, tourism exhibitions, displays of handicrafts & handlooms, yoga sessions, tourism & heritage walks, tourism related competitions for students & public, excursions trips to tourist sites, sensitization & awareness programmes, seminars & workshops etc.
'Bharat Parv' to promote cultural diversity
In an effort to 'generate a patriotic mood' and promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, the government will organise the 'Bharat Parv'. The event will be organised at the Red Fort from January 26 to 31, as per a release by the Ministry of Tourism. Being organised as part of the Republic Day 2018 celebrations, the 'Bharat Parv' is aimed to ensure wider participation of the general public.The Ministry of Tourism has been designated as the nodal Ministry for the event.
The event includes a display of Republic Day Parade tableaux, performances by the Armed Forces Bands, Food Festival, Crafts Mela and Cultural Performances from different regions of the country. The prime objective of organizing the event was to generate a patriotic mood, promote the rich cultural diversity of the country, to ensure wider participation of the general public and to popularize the idea of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.
The Hon'ble President of India presented the 'National Tourism Awards 2015-16' to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry at a function organised by the Ministry of Tourism on the occasion of "World Tourism Day" 27th September, 2017.
Development of tourism amenities
Konkan Railway is one of the most memorable train journeys in the country on account of the vistas that one gets to see and the excellent on board services on these trains. Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned an amount of Rs. 2499.98 Lakh for developing tourist amenities at Madgaon,Karmali and Thivim railway stations in Goa considering the importance of the Konkan Rail route from tourism angle.
Glass top coaches
In the run-up to providing delightful travelling experience in the picturesque and attract upscale tourists, the department of tourism has come up with the idea of glass top coaches. The coach has large glass windows, glass roof, observation lounge and rotatable seats allowing to passengers experience breathtakingly beautiful locations and sites en route.
These glass top coaches are fitted with extra wide comfortable seats, wide windows, single observation window at one end, glass roof, rotatable seats, automated sliding doors, mini pantry and wider body side door. Two glass top coaches were launched in 2017 on the Vishakhapatnam - ArakuValley and Dadar to Madgaon route. The third glass top coach is being refurbished to make it suitable for plying on the Qazigund - Baramullah route in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ministry of tourism has launched a new scheme - 'Swadesh Darshan' - for integrated development of 'theme-based tourist circuits' in the country. Buddhist circuit has been identified as one of the 13 thematic circuits for development under the scheme.
All places associated with Buddhist heritage in the country are covered under this theme.
Under Buddhist circuit theme, the ministry sanctioned a project, 'Construction of cultural centre at Bodh Gaya in Bihar' at an outlay of Rs 33.17 crore in 2014-15 and 'Development of Buddhist circuit in Sanchi-Satna-Rewa-Mandsaur-Dhar in Madhya Pradesh' for Rs 74.94 crore in 2016-17.
The projects carried out with foreign assistance for development of Buddhist sites during the last five years include formulation of comprehensive plan for upgradation of Buddhist sites in Bihar and UP.
Under 'Swadesh Darshan', 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development, namely North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
- 2014-15 - A total of 3 projects sanctioned for an amount of Rs. 152.77 Crore.
- 2015-16 - A total of 17 projects sanctioned for an amount of Rs. 1503.09 crore
- 2016-17 - A total of 31 projects sanctioned for an amount of Rs. 3191.38 crore
- 2017-18 - A total of 11 projects sanctioned for an amount of Rs. 824.80 Crore.
Five Special Tourism Zones
- The guidelines for setting up of Five Special Tourism Zones in the country have been prepared.
- Incredible India 2.0 Campaign launched and is being released on television, print and digital media.
- Other achievements
- Kumbh Mela included in the list of 'Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity'
- Last year, UNESCO has accorded Ahmedabad the status of India's first 'Heritage City'.
- Chennai, on account of its glorious tradition of music, has been included in the list of Creative Cities by UNESCO.
- Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during 2017 were 10.18 million with a growth of 15.6% over same period of the previous year, compared to FTAs of 8.8 million with a growth of 9.7% in 2016 over 2015.
- During 2017, a total of 1.7 million foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1.08 million during 2016, registering a growth of 57.2%.
- Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period 2017 were Rs.1,80,379 Crore with a growth of 17% over same period of previous year. Whereas, the FEEs during 2016 were Rs.1,54,146 Crore with a growth of 14% over 2015.
- During 2016, the number of domestic tourist visits to the States/UTs was 1613.6 million as compared to 1432.0 million in 2015 showing double digit growth of 12.7% in 2016 over 2015.