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Kumari Selja Stresses need to take incredible India Brand to next

level to present a Cohesive and forceful image

 
http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=60231

11 April 2010


The minister of Tourism & Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation  Kumari Selja has said that there is still a lot of hidden potential for development of tourism in India and the  Union Ministry of Tourism is working with all the stakeholders to make destination India one of the top destinations of the world. Speaking at the inauguration of  the Great  Indian Travel Bazaar 2010 in Jaipur today she said,  her ministry had launched the ‘Incredible India’ campaign in the year 2002 which  has created a distinctive brand image in the minds of the people across the world. Now there is  a need to improve the delivery of the products to match the brand image created by the campaign. She said, there is also a need to take the brand to the next level by integrating the sub-brands- regional, state, destinations, different products- to present a cohesive and forceful image. The Minister said her ministry is well aware of the need to give a new thrust to the travel and tourism industry and is working on a multi pronged strategy. Renewed promotional efforts along with developing new products as well as creating and nurturing infrastructural facilities to enhance our existing products are being focussed. She said, the numerous initiatives for promotion of tourism to India have resulted in development of unique products like Rural, Adventure, Eco, Wellness & Medical, Cruise, Heliport, Caravan and Cruise Tourism although Our USP still remain the incredible natural and cultural heritage of the country.

HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF MINISTER’S SPEECH:

“It gives me immense pleasure to be amongst you today at the ‘Great Indian Travel Bazaar 2010’ being organized by the Government of Rajasthan and FICCI with the support of  Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in Jaipur, the Pink City. GITB has seen tremendous growth over the years. Considering the range of participation and interest it has evoked over the years, it is, today, a major travel industry event in India. GITB plays an important role in showcasing the tourism destinations in India to markets across the world. I appreciate the efforts that have been made to bring together various partners under single umbrella by the organizers. This event also provides an opportunity for us to meet and interact with the professionals from tourism sector from within India and abroad.

Rajasthan, of course, needs no introduction to many tourists visiting or intending to visit India. Jaipur, the capital city, presents a great visual of India as a world-class tourism destination. The city, with its myriad attractions- architectural marvels of forts and palaces and the treasures within, the ancient astronomical features of Jantar Mantar to this modern building- has inspired many of you to put in your best efforts to bring in several tourists to witness these.

In a world that is becoming increasingly globalised, tourism is emerging as a catalyst for enhanced cooperation and mutual understanding amongst nations. The role of tourism as a major economic driver and employment generator is widely known. In India, tourism sector is estimated to contribute more than 6% to the GDP and more than 9% to the employment. Experience has shown that tourism pursued in a responsible manner can help promoting sustainable and equitable development at the local level. The tourism impacts all the economic strata of the society making it truly and inclusive growth driver. The Ministry of Tourism is aware of the true potential of tourism and we are working along with all the stakeholders to put tourism in the center of our public policy and establishing it as a major engine of economic growth and employment generation.

Tourism in India derives its strength from the rich diversity of its product. India’s civilization and culture reflects her extensive dialogue with other cultures and civilizations of the world through the ages. The range and depth of the influences resulting from this dialogue are unique and distinctive and reflected in all aspects of Indian life. Ancient culture and heritage, immense natural beauty, rich flora and fauna, all make India a favoured destination for the discerning tourist. There is still a lot of hidden potential for development of tourism in India and we in the Ministry of Tourism are working with all the stakeholders to make destination India one of the top destinations of the world. We had launched the ‘Incredible India’ campaign in the year 2002. This has created a distinctive brand image in the minds of the people across the world. Now there is need to improve the delivery of the products to match the brand image created by the campaign. There is also a need to take the brand to the next level by integrating the sub-brands- regional, state, destinations, different products- to present a cohesive and forceful image.

The Ministry of Tourism is well aware of the need to give a new thrust to the travel and tourism industry and is working on a multi pronged strategy.  We are focusing on renewed promotional efforts along with developing new products as well as creating and nurturing infrastructural facilities to enhance our existing products.  The numerous initiatives for promotion of tourism to India have resulted in development of unique products like Rural, Adventure, Eco, Wellness & Medical, Cruise, Heliport, Caravan and Cruise Tourism although Our USP still remain the incredible natural and cultural heritage of the country.

We are aware that tourism works in synergy. The Government primarily plays the role of a facilitator, acting as a catalyst for the development and promotion of tourism. The participation of Stakeholders, the driving force in the Industry, is of paramount importance. The facilities and services provided by the travel and hospitality industry contribute extensively to the visitor experience. It is absolutely imperative that we maintain the quality of facilities and services offered bringing them at par with the best in the world. We must keep pace with changing trends and requirements of the overseas travelers. We can ill afford to take continuing success and growth of the Tourism Sector for granted. We have to improve our products, plan carefully, refine our marketing strategies and bolster our efforts for sustainable growth of this vital industry.

The Government, on its part, is investing heavily for development of the Infrastructure Sector with a view to expand and modernize our travel and transport sector including airports, railways, ports and national highways.  Further, steps are being taken to promote all tourism related sectors by way of encouraging the hotel industry, development of tourism circuits, preservation   and   maintenance   of   monuments,   capacity building of available human resources, and up-gradation of information technology. The key to success lies in synergy of efforts and resources. Towards this end, we are making all efforts to converge the promotional initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism with the development plans of other Central Govt. Ministries, such as Railways, Civil Aviation, Road Transport & Highways, and Urban Development, etc.  We endeavor to provide the visitors the most memorable experience when they visit India.

One of the major challenges faced in destination development is the area of Solid Waste Management.  This is not only a desirable feature for ensuring the success of tourism in the country, but also absolutely essential for enhancing the quality of life of inhabitants in terms of Sanitation and Public Health. We are laying extreme emphasis on this aspect and are working on a new promotional on cleanliness as part of ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’ campaign. We would not be stopping at just TV promotional but engage with other ministries and stakeholders to make it true mass movement. We are also encouraging PPP to take care of this aspect at various destinations. Ministry has handheld IATO in having a MOU with Archeological Survey of India for managing the public conveniences at a few monuments.

The global economic slowdown adversely impacted economies world over. Tourism was one of the greatest sufferers of the slowdown, as in the hard times people suspend the pursuits of leisure. The year 2009 has been a very difficult year for all of us in the tourism industry. The effects of the recession in our major source markets and the results of the terror attacks in Mumbai had a cascading effect on the foreign tourist arrivals to India. However, this has been a general trend across the world and we in India felt it to a lesser extent than many other countries.

We have taken many initiatives to support the tourism industry. A five year tax holiday has been provided for two, three and four-star hotels coming up in destinations having UNESCO declared World Heritage Sites. In addition, in view of the Commonwealth Games-2010 tax holiday has also been extended to 2, 3 and 4 star hotels that came up before 31st March2010, which has been extended up to 31st July 2010 in the recent budget, in the NCR region.  Due to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has de-linked credit for hotel projects from commercial real estate, thereby enabling hotel projects to avail credit at relaxed norms and reduced interest rates.    In addition, the External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) norms have been relaxed by Ministry of Finance to solve the problem of liquidity being faced by the hotel industry due to economic slow down. In the current budget the ‘Investment Linked Deduction’ has been proposed which would benefit the hospitality industry substantially.

Friends, tourism in India is now on the path of recovery. This is due to the coordinated efforts of the Government and the tourism industry, which have joined hands to mitigate the negative impact on tourism.  The growth rate in foreign tourist arrivals in December 2009 over the corresponding period of 2008 works out to 21% which is the highest positive growth registered in any month of 2009.  The first quarter of 2010 has also seen a healthy growth of 12.8% over the corresponding period last year and now we can safely say that the negative impact has been totally mitigated. We can now look forward to renewed growth in the coming months.

The upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi gives us a unique opportunity to showcase our products in the major global markets and improve our growth figures.  We are working in close tandem with other stakeholders to ensure that the Games display a new and resurgent face of India. Massive investments in infrastructure such as airports, ports, roads, accommodation and sports facilities are taking place in and around Delhi to present it to the visitors.  The public transportation is also being upgraded at a frenetic pace. These investments along with seamless travel, which would be implemented in the Golden Triangle and better quality of service offered by the industry, will go a long way in making a positive impact on the tourists. This would bring many repeat visitors to India.

Domestic Tourism, unlike international tourism, has been showing robust growth and has worked as a cushion to the industry. In order to give further thrust to domestic tourism, Government of India supports the States and Union Territories financially for the development of tourism infrastructure.  We have launched a scheme for development of nationally and internationally important destinations and circuits. We have identified 29 Mega Destinations/Circuits so far on the basis of footfalls and their future potential.  Tourism projects for 21 of these destinations and circuits have already been sanctioned. The development plans of these destinations/circuits are being synergized with the infrastructure schemes and plans of other related Ministries.  These efforts are expected to deliver better connectivity to all major tourist destinations.

In Rajasthan, the Ajmer Pushkar Project has been sanctioned in 2008–09 at a total cost of Rs.10.69 Crore.  The project envisages development of Pushkar Mela Ground, Pushkar Sarovar Heritage Path, development facility at King Edward VII Memorial, Restoration of Museum at Akbar Fort Complex, Beautification of Ram Prakash Ghat at Anna Sagar Lake, and, development of Public Conveniences etc.  Tourism, being a major industry in the State, Central Financial Assistance to the tune of Rs.85.65 Crore has been sanction during the 11th Five Year Plan for various developmental projects.

Government of India has introduced the Visa on Arrival Scheme on a pilot basis for a period of one year from 1st January 2010.  The Scheme is currently valid for citizens of Finland, Luxembourg, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand.  Introduction of the scheme has already sent a positive signal about our intention to welcome foreign tourists.  In addition, eighteen countries have been granted the facility of Long Term Visa by India.  These measures are expected to give a fillip and much required impetus to the tourism industry.  However, some difficulties are being experienced by foreign tourists, in light of new visa regulations, on their re-entry to India after visits to neighbouring countries. These issues are being actively pursued with concerned authorities.  It is expected that the issues would be resolved in the near future.

The new technologies in communication and the widespread utilization of Internet have made the world a much smaller place.  The Ministry of Tourism is also exploring various ways of utilizing these technologies effectively to reach the target markets. We would like to invite your suggestions and experiences in utilizing these technologies and maximize their effects on India’s tourism industry.

While we focus on these new age techniques, we should also not forget that Tourism is one of the major sustainable industries in the world. The true potential of tourism lies in responsible practices on both the demand and supply sides of the tourism chain, enabling an effective response to climate change and preservation of the environment.  This makes sound business sense as we endeavour to preserve and nurture our products and extend their life cycle. The Endogenous Tourism Project of the Ministry of Tourism has gone a long way in making this a reality.  We continue to support such initiatives.  I would like to take this opportunity, as leaders of the Industry, to take a pledge to further the cause of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism in our country.  The onus of leading by example to emerge as premiere practitioners of Responsible Tourism rests squarely with us and the initiatives that we take.

Our tourism industry, today, is pro–active in approach, responsive and alert to international and national travel with focus on public private partnerships and growth of intra–regional tourism.  Organization of the Great Indian Travel Bazaar in Rajasthan – the land of forts and palaces – will not only provide a forum for interaction between international buyers and exhibitors from across the world, but also provides a platform for showcasing the incredible range of unique tourism products of the Country.

Friends, I am confident that GITB 2010 will provide an effective platform for business interactions amongst buyers and sellers from across the world.  This will be beneficial not only to India but other countries as well.  My earnest request to all of you present here – the Government officials; the Hotel, Travel Trade, Hospitality & Service  Industry Associations; and, all buyers and sellers – is to join hands and work together towards the common cause of promoting tourism to India.

I take this opportunity once again to welcome the delegates and participants from overseas.  May I add that we are very encouraged by your enthusiasm to come and source the Indian Tourism products.  I wish you all a very pleasant stay in “Incredible India”.