Home > politics > policy > Tourism policy to chart action plans, deadlines

New Delhi: India will unveil a new tourism policy on 15 May outlining clear-cut action plans and timelines, as it aims to attract more foreign travellers and boost domestic tourism.

The policy will create a new way of working in which a task is identified and a person assigned for it, said an official statement citing the tourism minister at a tourism industry workshop held in New Delhi.

The timelines will be fixed and implementation closely monitored, Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for tourism, culture and civil aviation, said at the workshop to seek inputs for National Tourism Policy 2015.

The move to float a new policy, which will replace the one in place since 2002, is in line with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s aim to make tourism one of the major drivers of economic growth.

The minister also appreciated the proposal to set up a National Tourism Board, which will create synergies between various ministries to promote tourism, the statement said.

The existing tourism policy focuses on positioning tourism as a major engine of economic growth, harnessing the direct and multiplier effects of tourism for employment generation, making domestic tourism a major growth driver, establishing India as a global brand and acknowledging the role of private sector, among other things.

“The potential of the existing policy of 2002 has not been used fully and the new policy will use the framework of the existing National Tourism Policy of 2002 to make it dynamic to meet the challenges that have emerged in today’s world, including technological and global competitiveness," Sharma said.

“The new policy will contain a definite action plan with a clear-cut road map and timelines," added Lalit Panwar, secretary, tourism.

India is trying to raise the share of foreign travel arrivals to 1% of total global tourists over the next couple of years, from 0.64% at present.

In 2014, the annual foreign exchange earnings from tourist arrivals totalled $19.657 billion, compared with $18.445 billion in 2013.

The new policy will follow several steps to boost tourism, including extending visas-on-arrival facility for more countries as well as issuing electronic visas.

Representatives from the Indian Association of Tour Operators, Ficci, Nasscom, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality, Travel Agency Corporation of India, Indian Tourist Transporters Authority, Indian Heritage Hotels Association, All India Resort Developers Association and Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India attended Wednesday’s workshop.

Some of the participants suggested a single-window system for making information available to tourists, while stakeholders related to the hotel industry and transport business demanded tax incentives, especially in the off-season.

Technology is also likely to become an important enabler in promoting tourism.

The government is planning to extend its pilot project on e-ticketing, that started with Taj Mahal and Humayun Tomb, to 25 monuments of India.

It may look at different mobile applications for the various sectors in tourism to provide information.

The concept of a digital museum was also proposed to promote the rich and unique local cultures and heritage.

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