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Poor sanitation would mar tourism, says President

Appreciating the cleanliness campaign launched at tourist sites, President Pranab Mukherjee today said “inconsistent sanitation standards” at these places would have a negative impact on tourism and asked all stakeholders to work together to achieve the goal of clean India.

“The Ministry of Tourism’s Swach Bharat-Swach Parayatan campaign to promote cleanliness and hygiene at tourist destinations is a welcome step in the right direction,” he said at the national tourism awards event.

“Inconsistent sanitation standards would, similarly, have a negative impact. This would be unfortunate – especially at a time when our tourism industry is projecting the unique beauty of our cultural sites, the scenic splendour of our adventure destinations and the richness of our architectural heritage,” he said.

The President called upon all stakeholders to work together to achieve this goal in all aspects of the “India” experience and stressed that it is essential for the Tourism Ministry to take the lead and set the highest standards in this regard.

“It is equally important to develop systems for effective monitoring to ensure that these standards are maintained by establishments across the board,” he said.

Referring to the safety concerns, the President said, “The safety mechanisms that we create, the precautions that we put in place must reassure our guests – so that they never have to be apprehensive about their personal safety or that of their belongings.”

He said the Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative to address the safety concerns of the tourists by launching 24×7 Incredible India Helpline to provide the tourists valuable information and to guide them during emergencies.

He said quicker access to distant locations, larger disposable incomes and rising lifestyle aspirations now characterise the growing numbers of travellers.

Highlighting the need to conserve natural resources and heritage, the President urged the tourism industry to consciously plan its investments in a manner that the growth of this sector is sustained without compromising natural and cultural heritage.

Advocating new and innovative methods to conserve energy and water, he said, “It should be incumbent on tourist establishments and hospitality units to operate in a way that they are able to reduce water and energy consumption, cut down on generation of waste, improve waste management and ensure creative recycling and efficient waste disposal.”

The President said, “Broader social contacts between tourists and receiving communities go a long way in enhancing mutual understanding, tolerance, and awareness between people. Tourism translates into closer collaboration and cultural exchanges across the nation and with distant communities all over the world.”

“In 2014, a total of 1282 million domestic visits in India were recorded. In that year, India had 7.68 million foreign tourist arrivals registering a growth of 10.2 per cent over the previous year. However, it comprised a mere 0.7 per cent of the international tourist arrivals worldwide, which was 1.1 billion,” he said.

The President said there is a tremendous scope of growth in foreign tourist arrivals.

“There is tremendous scope for a manifold rise in tourist arrivals from abroad. The foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector during 2014 were Rs. 1.2 lakh crore with a growth rate of 14.5 per cent,” President Mukherjee said.

Referring to the recently introduced e-visa system, he said the implementation of e-Tourist Visa, for 113 countries, is showing excellent results. “Many of the high potential countries like USA, UK, Spain, Malaysia, Germany, etc. now have the e-Tourist Visa facility. During January to July, 2015, close to 1.5 lakh tourists arrived on our soil through e-Tourist Visa,” he said.

The President hoped that with the growth of the Indian economy and the increase in disposable income of our people, tourist inflows to remain on a positive trajectory in the years to come.

“We must pay focused attention to the building of a high quality tourism infrastructure in the country,” he said. President Mukherjee described tourism as an agent of development and an engine for economic growth and employment generation. Referring to trained human resource as an important component for the development of any sector, he said, “I am happy to know that the Ministry of Tourism has paid attention for creating trained human resources to meet the requirements of the tourism sector and the hospitality industry.”

The Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs), Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM) and Food Craft Institutes (FCIs) provide avenues for getting education and training to serve in the tourism sector.

He also referred to the ‘Hunar-se-Rozgar Tak’ scheme of the Ministry under which training is being provided to the youth and described it as a laudable initiative for bringing social equity and employment opportunities to the weaker sections of society.

The President referred to the launch of two initiatives – Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) – aiming at integrated development of circuits and pilgrim centres.