New Delhi, March 30: Tourism Ministry has taken various steps to increase the number of inbound as well as outbound tourists. Therefore, the tourism sector has flourished in recent years and economy of the country has seen effective growth. Tourism Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma informed Rajya Sabha about various steps taken to increase tourism of the country.
Various effective steps taken to increase tourism are as follows:
i) The nomenclature of existing e-Tourist Visa has been changed to e-Visa with three subcategories i.e. e-Tourist Visa, E-Business Visa and e-Medical Visa for citizens of 161 countries.
ii) Development and promotion of ‘Niche Tourism’ products.
iii) Generating sufficient manpower to meet the requirements of the tourism and hospitality industry.
iv) The launch of 24x7 toll-free Multi-Lingual Tourist Helpline.
v) Providing Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for various tourism projects including fairs, festivals and tourism related events as per the relevant scheme guidelines.
vi) Ministry of Tourism is offering free Pre- loaded SIM Cards for tourists on e-Visa at the ITDC counter at IGI Airport.
In addition, the Ministry of Tourism has also taken the following steps for the development of Tourism:-
i) Launching theme based tourist circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme for integrated development of tourism infrastructure and facilities.
ii) Launching the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to beautify and improve the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths.
iii) Promoting India as a holistic tourism destination including the various tourism sites and products of every State/Union Territory of the country in the domestic and international markets.
Therefore, Foreign Tourists Arrivals (FTAs) in India during the year 2015 were 80,27,133 with a growth rate of 4.5% over the year 2014 and during the year 2016 were 88,89,784 with a growth rate of 10.7% over the year 2015.
Tourism Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma also informed about the study conducted by his ministry on “Problems and Prospects of Accessible Tourism in India” in the year 2010. According to the report, disabled tourists have to face many barriers at the time of booking and during the travel. Some of them are as below:
Minister Sharma also noted that various steps were also taken by his ministry to promote tourist destinations and to make them more friendly for the differently abled are as below:
· While submitting Detailed Project Report of a project under Swadesh Darshan or PRASAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) Schemes of the Ministry, State Government/Union Territory Administration has to submit an undertaking in the specified format stating that ‘barrier free environment for differently abled tourists has been incorporated in the design of the built up areas of the project’. In addition to this, it is also specifically mentioned in the sanction order of the project that ‘the executing agency shall put in place the mandatory facilities for barrier-free access by physically disabled persons’.
· A new category of Award of Excellence for Most Barrier- Free Monument/Tourist Attraction in the country has been instituted to encourage the agencies responsible for maintaining monuments/tourist attractions to create barrier- free environment for the promotion of accessible tourism.
· The condition of making the hotels accessible for people with different abilities by providing facilities like dedicated room with attached bathroom, designated parking, ramps, free accessibility in public areas and at least one restaurant, designated toilet (unisex) at the lobby level, etc. have been included in the guidelines for approval and classification of star category hotels.