NEW DELHI: BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have bagged most of the top honours in the national tourism awards announced on Friday here by the union tourism ministry.
While, conferring the awards on the winners, President Pranab Mukherjee laid stress on the cleanliness.
Gujarat bagged top award for Comprehensive Development of Tourism, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan at number two and three positions. Gujarat also won first position in three other categories - best rural tourism project for Rann Utsav, best tourism promotion publicity material for 'Gujarat's 50 golden destinations' coffee table book, and best film promotion friendly state.
Madhya Pradesh bagged a total six awards in different categories including 'best maintained and disabled-friendly monument' for Bhojpur Temple. It also got award for tourist- friendly railway station at Habibganj.
'The Great Backwaters of Kerala' got award for the best tourism film. Indira Gandhi International Airport got award in the best airport category.
For the category best civic management of a tourist destination, the award has been given to municipal council of Maheshwar, district Khargone, MP, and Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu.
The Tourism Ministry annually presents National Tourism Awards to States and even private sector for different categories.
Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said, "India has got vast scope of tourism as we have eco-tourism, desert tourism, hill tourism, rural tourism and many other schemes."
The Tourism Minister said the government has launched a tourist helpline 1363 which will soon have facility in 12 more foreign languages like Russian and Japanese. Currently the helpline operates in Hindi and English only.
The President in his speech said, “ The Ministry of Tourism's Swach Bharat-Swach Parayatan campaign to promote cleanliness and hygiene at tourist destinations is a welcome step in the right direction."
"Inconsistent sanitation standards would, similarly, have a negative impact. This would be unfortunate – especially at a time when our tourism industry is projecting the unique beauty of our cultural sites, the scenic splendour of our adventure destinations and the richness of our architectural heritage," he said.