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Security, Cleanliness and Skilled Manpower are the three pillars of a sound tourism infrastructure

Travel Authorization (ETA) on November 27, 2014 for 43 countries. The Government extended this Scheme to the citizens of Guyana in January, 2015. During the month of March 2015, a total of 25,851 tourists arrived by ETA enabled TVoA as compared to 1,958 TVoA during the month of March 2014, registering a growth of 1220.3 per cent. During January – March 2015, a total of 75,859 tourists arrived by ETA enabled TVoA as compared to 5,841 TVoA during January- March 2014, registering a growth of 1198.7 per cent.

The percentage share of top 10 source countries for ETA enabled TVoA, in India during March 2015 were as follows – USA (33.25 per cent), Germany (14.64 per cent), Russian Federation (13.13 per cent), Australia (8.37 per cent), Republic of Korea (6.39 per cent), Ukraine (4.21 per cent), Mexico (2.93 per cent), Japan (1.99 per cent), New Zealand (1.91 per cent) and Israel (1.68 per cent). Our target is to take this facility to 120 countries by the end of the year. In next phase, we would be opening our gates to Spain, UK, China (under consideration) and two more countries in next fortnight.

New National Tourism Policy, 2015
The Ministry of Tourism is currently in the process of formulating a National Tourism Policy 2015 with the aim of positioning India as a “Must See” destination for global travellers, encouraging Indians to explore their own country and realising the potential of tourism as a major engine for economic growth, employment generation and poverty alleviation in a responsible framework. One of the suggestions received for the Policy includes the setting up of a National Tourism Authority/Board.

Core points that MoT is working on
We are going pay more emphasis on safety, cleanliness and hospitality, just as I have mentioned before. We will be launching different schemes and programmes such as Namaste India-Re-launching Indian Tourism, different security measures, etc. Promoting Tourism will be an effective tool to contain extremism in the country. We recently launched an International Toll Free number for tourists in two languages, which has been much appreciated. We plan to make the same facility available in 12 languages. An amount of Rs 120 crore has already been sanctioned for development of a special circuit for the North East states. We will also make special efforts to promote North Eastern States as a major tourist destination of the country. North East has a great potential to be developed as an important tourist destination due to its varied flora and fauna. Tourism can make significant contribution to the economic development of the region.

Update on ‘Hunar Se Rozgar Tak’
As on March 31, 2015, over 1.94 lakh persons have been trained under the programme ‘Hunar Se Rozgar Tak’ (HSRT) of the Ministry of Tourism. The HSRT initiative is being implemented through expert institutions including the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management, Institutes of Hotel Management, Food Craft Institutes and India Tourism Development Corporation. The State Governments/Union Territory Administrations have also been authorised to implement the initiative through Institutes selected by them for purpose. It is also mandatory for certain star-classified hotels to train a prescribed minimum number of persons. As of now, the HSRT Initiative covers four hospitality trades namely food production, food & beverage service, housekeeping utility and bakery and patisserie. Besides, there are programmes in place to bring up drivers, tourist facilitators, event facilitators, tour assistants, transfer assistants and office assistants. I do understand that the lack of skilled tour guides is an issue and we are looking at addressing it on a war footing. Soon we will have trained, multi-lingual guides at all tourist places.

Some key achievements
Some of the steps taken by the Ministry of Tourism to increase the arrival of tourists to India are:-
• Launch of Tourist e-Visa for citizens of 44 countries
• Promotion of the destination through the Incredible India Campaign across the globe
• Participation in major International Tourism and Travel Fairs and Exhibitions
• Organising Road Shows to promote tourism destinations and products of country in major tourist source markets in collaboration with stake holders
• Development and promotion “Niche Tourism” products
• Creating an increased pool of trained man power in hospitality and tourism sectors for delivery of quality service to the tourist
• Organising International Buddhist Conclave once in two years to show case the Buddhist Heritage and International Tourism Mart for showcasing the tourism potential of North East being held every year.