Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy on Monday said his ministry is in talks with various stakeholders for the recovery of the tourism sector that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and stressed that vaccination is key for its revival.
On the occasion of World Tourism Day, the tourism ministry organised a conference on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth” here. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla was the chief guest at the event.
Noting that the tourism sector was the worst-hit by the pandemic, Reddy said, “The government has taken various measures for its revival and recovery, including five lakh free VISAs for foreign tourists.”
The minister said the Centre has also announced various packages and relaxations for the tourism sector in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Asking all stakeholders in the sector to focus on health and safety issues in the wake of the pandemic, Reddy said, “Vaccination is key for the revival of the tourism sector and India has already vaccinated more than 85 crore people.”
Asserting that the country has an immense potential for tourism, Reddy said his ministry has been organising various events for promoting tourism in far-flung and unexplored areas of the country. A similar event was also organised for promoting tourism in the northeast, he added.
Echoing similar sentiments, Birla said tourism is the growth engine of the economy and the country has a huge potential in this sector as it offers a wide range of destinations, from beaches to deserts.
He said that there is tremendous potential in India in the fields of environment, spirituality, education and medical tourism.
“India’s domestic and foreign policy have provided an enabling environment for promotion of tourism. Our goal must be to make India the number one tourist destination. In this regard, more and more efforts should be made to develop tourist friendly destinations,” the Lok Sabha speaker observed.
Birla stressed on use of information technology tools in promoting tourism both at the domestic and international levels.
He launched NIDHI 2.0 (National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry) and released the India Tourism Statistics: At a Glance, 2021.
An MoU among the tourism ministry, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) to actively promote and support sustainability initiatives in the tourism sector was also exchanged at the event.
NIDHI is the ministry’s portal to register accommodation units in the country and as on date, 44,024 units have been registered on the portal which was activated on June 8 last year.
“The prime minister’s vision has been to use tourism as a tool for employment generation and inclusive development. The tourism sector has the highest job creating potential among the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors,” he said.