NEW DELHI:For long, India has been promoted as a spiritual hub. Now, the government wants to promote it as a honeymooners paradise, and everything that may fall between these two ‘destinations’.
To promote India as ‘Must Experience’ and ‘Must Revisit’ destination, the Narendra Modi government has come out with a national tourism policy 2015 draft. The new policy gives direct access to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in deciding the course of the crucial sector that is expected to contribute 6.7 per cent to the country’s GDP. One of the key co-ordination committee announced as part of the policy will be under the PMO, many aspects of Modi’s vision like Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Smart Cities, International Yoga Day and Skill Development are part of the draft policy.
The policy aims to cash in the tourist wanderlust to increase India’s share in world tourist arrivals from the present measly 0.68 per cent to 1 per cent by 2020 and then take it to two percent by the year 2025.
What makes the new policy different from the last one is the hike in ‘tourism products’ being offered, and the concrete roadmap to achieve that. It calls for putting tourism—currently a state subject—to the concurrent list to help the Centre play a significant role instead of being a mere accountant disbursing funds. From setting up a new university, volunteer force, policy for vintage cars, promoting separate boards for yoga, Ayurveda, heritage tourism, wellness and using the 25 million Indian diaspora, the 50-page policy touches on all aspects.
The policy will give something to everyone—from catering to weary souls looking for spirituality, India will market spirituality circuits based on Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism to ancient India’s contribution now discovered world over through yoga. It will also offer products based on medical and rural tourism, Ayurveda and heritage.
The draft policy released this week also lists beaches, rivers, backwaters, cruises, adventure, wildlife, festivals, shopping destinations, cuisine trails showing the diversity of food, cinematic tourism, emerging concepts like heritage walks, and lesser-known wedding destinations. If Hollywood is coming to India to get married in opulent palaces of Rajasthan in colourful and elaborate rituals, then Honeymoon Tourism will be a part of it. The new policy says it all.
“India is over-blessed with an array of offerings, each able to create a compelling invitation for travellers. This, however, risks causing confusion for travellers as to what to experience. It also risks overwhelm when travellers try to do too much on one trip,” says the policy, explaining the reason for careful preparation of these tourism products to help the discerning tourist decide on their itinerary.
The action plan suggests setting up of a National Tourism Advisory Board headed by the Union Tourism Minister and state tourism ministers as members and an inter-ministerial coordination committee headed by the principal secretary in the PMO and comprising babus from other ministries. The Authority will also have ministry officials and industry representatives for execution of policies. Officials said these bodies would help in addressing problems faced by state governments and stakeholders who offer services.
The new policy has also recommended setting up of a full-fledged university to prepare skilled workforce for the hospitality sector. The policy says that a certification mechanism will be started that will give an “India Specialist” certification. This certificate will help tourists to seek their services in choosing from an array of products and packages on offer.
The policy also suggests using the 25 million strong NRI community in 189 countries to act as brand ambassadors.
■ Tourism to be put on concurrent list
■ National Tourism Advisory Board under Union Tourism Minister
■ Inter-ministerial coordination committee under PMO
■ National Tourism Board
■ Empowered Regional Councils in different regions
■ India Tourism offices overseas to be nuclear but outsource PR and event management
■ Increase number of heritage sites on Unesco list
■ Certain percentage of ticketed revenue be given to monuments for preservation
■ Night viewing at ASI Archaeology monuments
■ Policy for vintage cars
■ Develop ‘Culinary Trails’ to showcase culinary heritage
■ Invite MasterChef Australia and similar culinary reality shows to India
■ Deploy ex-servicemen and trained volunteers at important tourist sites
■ Special Tourism Zones on the lines of SEZs
■ Provide free Wi-Fi connectivity at tourist centres in India