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Reviving India Tourism

Indian National Tourism Advisory Council and the private sector recently got together to take stock of the tourism sector in the wake of Mumbai terrorist attacks and global meltdown.

       The National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC) and industry stakeholders met in New Delhi on December 15 under the chairpersonship of Minister of Tourism and Culture Smt. Ambika Soni. Convened by the Union Ministry of Tourism, the meeting discussed problems facing the industry in the wake of terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the impact on the India’s tourism businesses from the global economic dwonturn.

       More than 60 representatives from hospitality, travel and tour businesses met senior union and state governments officials at the brain storming session, also attended by Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Smt. Kanti Singh. At meeting observed one minute silence in the memory of those who have lost their lives in the terror attacks in Mumbai. 

     The Minister of Tourism and Culture Smt. Ambika Soni, after paying tributes to those who lost their lives in line of their duties and innocent citizens, condemned the act, which said, was perpetuated by those who were against the secular fiber of the country and those who do not want to see India’s economy grow at 8-9 percent. She said the industry would bounce back, noting that hotels being run by the Tata and Oberoi groups would be reopening on December 21.

Smt. Soni said India was holding its place in the world on its own and the recent high profile visits of the Russian president and other world dignitaries to India had proved that world community has faith in our country.  

 The return of English Cricket team for test matches and successful organisation of Volvo boat race in Kochi further adds to this credence. Smt. Soni said initially some countries issues travel advisories to their citizens immediately after the Mumbai attacks but now these advisories had been toned down. Tourism Ministry needs a proper feedback to strengthen its position on issues to be taken priority, she added. 

The industry representatives urged the government to give priority to the security related issues and send out a message of reassurance to the world community that India is a safe destination. They also wanted fiscal support, tax relaxations and infrastructure industry status of tourism, better connectivity and improved upkeep of national monuments.

     During the deliberations, it was decided to form a committee of representatives of trade associations and officers of the concerned ministries to look for ways by which the visitors experience at important heritage monuments can be improved. Another committee was formed to look into the civil aviation related issues like chartered flights etc. 

     Steps proposed to be taken by the Government to protect the Indian Tourism Industry from the global meltdown

(A) Market Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme:

       Under this scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides financial support to approved tourism service providers in the country for undertaking tourism promotional activities abroad. These promotional activities include undertaking sales-cum-study tours, participation in fairs and Publicity through printed material. Requests received from the Indian Association of Tour Operators have been considered and the Ministry has agreed to enhance the benefits and financial support given under the Scheme as detailed below: Enhanced limit of financial assistance would be forthcoming for financial support for Sale-cum-Study Tour,Trade Fairs and exhibitions and production of publicity material.

• In addition Financial assistance to be provided for participation in three international trade fairs/exhibitions in a year, as compared to 2 in the present guidelines

• The upper ceiling of Foreign Exchange Earnings of applicant companies for eligibility under the Scheme, to be increased from Rs. 10 crore to Rs. 20 crore.

       i) Familiarization Tours for Overseas Media and Travel Trade Representatives
       The Indiatourism offices overseas have been advised to liaise with the Media and Travel Trade in their respective regions and examine the possibility of organizing Familiarization tours to Mumbai and /or other regions of the country, to get first hand information on the ground realities. India tourism, London has already had a meeting with leading tour operators, hoteliers and association of British Travel Agents in this regard.

       ii) Incentives to repeat visitors

       At the meeting it was agreed that the tourism industry would declare 2009 as Visit India Year. The concept is that those who visit India in 2009 would thereafter experience India ‘s rural tourism, eco tourism, adventure tourism, wellness tourism in specially worked out packages in 2010 and 2011. Details will be worked out by the ministry of tourism in partnership with the stakeholders.

       (B): Subsidy to the trade and state governments for participation in international travel fairs and exhibitions:

       The Ministry of Tourism will offer a subsidy of 25% in participation fee, to the travel trade/State Governments for participation in the India Pavilions set up by the Ministry of Tourism / India tourism offices overseas at major international travel fairs and exhibitions till the end of the financial year 2009-10.

       (C): Under the existing scheme of Hospitality programme, the Ministry of Tourism invites editorial teams of travel publications, travel writers, journalists, photographers, TV teams, travel agents, tour operators, subject specialists, and opinion makers etc., to effectively project India an attractive multi-dimensional tourist destination offering a vast range of attractions. In nutshell, the schemes’ main objective is to project and promote India abroad and is outward looking. Expenditure on travel etc., within India of Foreign tour operators, writers, TV teams, opinion makers etc. are met by the Ministry of Tourism which forms the part of Domestic Promotion, Publicity and Hospitality (DPPH) Budget.

       The approved scheme in its modified form will be applicable to approved tourism service providers i.e., Hoteliers, Travel agents, tour operators, tourist transport operators approved by the Ministry of Tourism and in the case of North East States and J&K, only approved by the State Tourism Department concerned, subject to the upper ceiling of Rs. 30,000 only. The incentive proposed is applicable to travel by air only. The scheme in this form may help in appropriately exploiting the other destinations/circuits of the country.

       (D): India Convention and Promotion Bureau (ICPB)

       The MICE segment has emerged as a substantially high component of growth in inbound tourism. Most countries constantly endeavour to attract MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) cliental through bids for various international conventions/conferences/seminars and the like. The Indian societies/members are only entitled to bid for bringing the international conferences of these larger international associations to India .

       In order to give a boost to the MICE tourism, the Ministry of Tourism is actively considering extending the benefit of the Marketing Development Assistance Scheme, Active Members of India Convention Promotion Bureau towards bidding for international conference/conventions, thereby bringing more MICE business to the country. Under the scheme association/societies would be given professional as well as financial support for bidding as well as for winning the bid in association with the Active Members of ICBP.

       (E): Organisation of Travel Mart

                     The Ministry of Tourism would encourage the private tourism trade to organize annual travel mart wherein all the travel agents, travel operators, travel journalists would participate to promote tourism in this part of the world.


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