Govt looks to revive tourism sector as jab drive gathers steam
To revive the concerned industry and increase travel in unexplored regions, Ajay Bhatt said, the tourism ministry has created special projects such as the Buddhist Circuit Train and a tourist train exploring five northeastern states under the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative.
Minister of state for tourism Ajay Bhatt on Wednesday lauded the efforts of the Centre to revive the tourism industry which suffered a major setback during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While delivering the keynote speech at the two-day Hindustan Times Tourism Conclave in Delhi, the minister congratulated the nation for administering one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses and for attempting to revive the tourism industry despite backlash from international communities.
A sudden influx of visitors in the hills prior to the second wave was seen as a major reason behind a sharp surge in Covid-19 infections between April and June, Bhatt said. Foreign media, he added, alleged that Covid-19 protocols and guidelines were not followed by domestic travellers.
“It was due to the efforts of health care workers, scientists and the public that we were able to emerge from it,” he said.
The 3rd edition of the Hindustan Times Tourism Conclave, held in New Delhi, is centred around the theme, ‘Reviving Tourism-Responsibly in the post-pandemic world’. This event has been organised in partnership with various state tourism agencies — Bihar Tourism, Gujarat Tourism, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, IRCTC, Jharkhand Tourism, Maharashtra Tourism and Uttarakhand Tourism.
MoS Bhatt, who was among several bureaucrats from the tourism industry who attended the event on Wednesday, said discussions around the revival of the tourism industry have largely been due to more people getting vaccinated against Covid-19.
“When international tourism was shut in India, we started a TV program called ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ wherein the Ministry of Tourism provided knowledge on various Indian destinations. Following this, we saw an increase in domestic tourism to lesser-known destinations,” he said.
To revive the concerned industry and increase travel in unexplored regions, the minister said, the tourism ministry has created special projects such as the Buddhist Circuit Train and a tourist train exploring five northeastern states under the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative.
In addition to these projects, the central government has also worked towards reopening the travel industry on an international level by allowing chartered flights from October 15 and non-chartered ones from November 15. This measure has further been amplified by providing five lakh free Indian visas to international travelers.
“It is necessary for us to move swiftly, given that large amounts of the Indian population are employed under the tourism sector,” the MoS said.
Based on studies conducted in the employment sector, on every ₹10 lakhs invested by the government, 78 people can be employed in the tourism industry as compared to 45 people in other sectors, Bhatt said. “This means that the tourism business can be a game-changer for the country,” he added.
Bhatt also mentioned a national tourism policy that will be developed by closely consulting the state government and other beneficiaries.