Union Minister of Tourism, Culture & DoNER Shri G. Kishan Reddy addressed the inauguration session of two days’ conference of Tourism and Culture Ministers of the Southern Region today in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Minister of State, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and andMoS in Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Shri Dr. L. Murugan; Minister of State, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Shri BhagwanthKhuba and Minister of State for Tourism, GoI Shri Ajay Bhatt also graced this event. Secretary Culture, GOI Shri. Govind Mohan, Senior Officials from various Central Ministries, State Governments, Union Territory Administrations (UTs), Media and industry stakeholders were also present.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri G Kishan Reddy said that under the Prime Minister’s guidance and leadership it took us only 281 days to administer100 crore COVID vaccine doses. There can be no bigger confidence booster for the revival of tourism than vaccination. “Tourism & Culture Ministers Conference of the South Indian Region to discuss and deliberate on the tourism development strategy for the region is in line with the Prime Minister’s idea of Cooperative Federalism – where the Government of India and the state governments come together to find solutions for a better India,” Shri Reddy added.
Shri Reddy further said that he truly believes that the Southern Region is unique in its offerings and Ministry has laid special emphasis on developing infrastructure, on-ground capacity, and skills. Shri Reddy informed that under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which focuses on integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits, the Ministry has sanctioned 15 projects in the Southern States worth Rs. 1088 crores. “Under the PRASHAD scheme (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive), the Ministry has sanctioned 6 projects in the region that amounts to 15 per cent of the entire scheme budget,” he added.
Shri Reddy said that recently, the Ministry of External Affairs on the request of the Ministry of Tourism has appointed dedicated 20 Tourism Officers in Indian Missions abroad. This will enable us to widely promote Indian tourism in countries such as Australia, Canada, USA, France, Germany, and Gulf Countries. “India’s civilisation heritage goes back to many thousands of years and this Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav is also an opportunity to pay a tribute to all those people that fought for the preservation of our heritage,” he added.
Dr. L. Murugan highlighted the importance of Religious & Spiritual Tourism in the development of tourism sector. Shri Murugan said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has shown keen interest in tourism sector. His vision of developing India as a multi-modal tourist destination is now being executed. “Each State of India has a unique potential of contributing to this vision of Shri Narendra Modi”, he added. Shri Murugan further said that as we are celebrating Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav it is our duty to encourage the younger generations to visit the memorial of these freedom fighters and devote themselves in the service to the Nation.
Minister of State for Tourism and Defence, Sh. Ajay Bhatt said, “Culture and tourism complement each other in today’s changing world. If culture is the soul of any society, tourism is the medium of understanding and knowing that society. If our culture is rich then tourism is the means of demonstrating this prosperity. That is why it is necessary to see culture and tourism as two sides of the same coin. The people of South India have understood this very well and that is why there has often been a very good development in the field of tourism here.” Shri Bhatt also highlighted the impact of 100 crore vaccination on tourism sector.
Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Shri Bhagwant Khuba spoke of the historical significance of Basavanna Kalyan in Bidar, Karnataka and Lord Basaveshwara. Shri Khuba urged the Ministry of Tourism to develop Bidar through Tourism schemes like PRASAD.
During the first day of the conference ADG of M/o Tourism Smt. Rupinder Brar gave a presentation on the various projects/initiatives/programmes being undertaken for the creation of tourism infrastructure, marketing & promotion, and skill development programmes in the Southern Region. After that Director General, Archaeological Survey of India and Ministry of Tourism Smt. V Vidyavathi gave presentation on Heritage projects, monuments, and other cultural initiatives in the Southern Region. Potential of Cruise Tourism & Rail Tourism in the Southern Region and opportunity in Southern Region State-wise/UT-wise presentations were also given.
Ministry of Tourism promotes India as a holistic destination including southern region States & UTs on various platforms in Digital, Print and Social Media. Since April 2020, under the Dekho Apna Desh campaign, the Ministry of Tourism is conducting webinars on various tourism products including dedicated webinars on States & UTs of the Southern Region. The connectivity by air, rail and road to various destinations in the region is excellent and sought-after destinations by many.
The Ministry of Tourism has concentrated on the issues of Skill development in tourism sector, creating a pool of well-trained and professional Tourist Facilitators is essential for providing world-class services to the tourists, promotion and marketing for creating awareness about the destination in the domestic and international markets.
As domestic tourism is showing a great surge in the last few months and as the borders will be open for international tourists soon, building confidence and trust of the tourists is extremely important. In this connection, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism have already notified COVID-19 Safety and hygiene protocols. The Ministry has put in place a System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI) to ensure compliance with COVID 19 Safety and Hygiene guidelines and to ensure safety and health of employees/customers. SAATHI initiative aims to assist in the preparedness of Hotels to continue operations safely and also restore the confidence of guests and enhance the image of the hotel as a responsible hotel. As on date, more than 10,000 accommodation units have registered under SAATHI. The hotel units from States and UTs of Southern region has shown a good response in registering their units on the portal to follow the necessary protocols.
Ministry of Tourism undertakes development of infrastructure at tourist destinations across the country under its infrastructure development schemes viz. Swadesh Darshan (SD) and PRASHAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive). In Swadesh Darshan Scheme 76 projects have been sanctioned across India which also includes projects from Southern Region States and UTs. Under Swadesh Darshan scheme projects have been sanctioned in different themes such as Coastal Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Eco Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, etc. Under PRASHAD Scheme, 37 projects have been sanctioned in India which also includes projects from the Southern States. These efforts are expected to culminate in a major fillip to the tourism sector in the region.