The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu today called for more responsible and sustainable tourism practices. Expressing his concern about the worsening problem of pollution, he asked service providers to make sustainability and conservation an integral part of their business plan.
He urged all stake holders of the tourism industry to be especially mindful of their ecological footprint and adopt a much more judicious approach to consumption of resources so that future generations also have the opportunity to avail of all the benefits of tourism.
He was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the World Tourism Day-2019 celebrations in New Delhi today.
Venkaiah Naidu expressed his happiness at India being selected as the host country for celebration of World Tourism Day 2019 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Andhra Pradesh bagged the top honour at the National Tourism Awards 2017-18, which were presented by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
A total of 76 awards were given under various categories this year.
Goa and Madhya Pradesh were the joint winners in the Adventure Tourism category and Uttarakhand won the award for the Best Film Promotion-Friendly State.
Telangana won the award for the Best State for the innovative use of IT.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan here, Venkaiah Naidu said doing business in India has become easier and more tourists are visiting the country.
Earlier businesses were caught in red tape. Now tourists get a red carpet welcome in India, he said.
Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel and Secretary-General of World Tourism Organisation Zurab Pololikashvili were also present on the occasion.
The Vice President also met with Ms. Sofia Montiel De Afara, Minister of Tourism of Paraguay on the side-lines of World Tourism Day Celebrations and held discussions about India-Paraguay co-operation in the field of tourism.
The Vice President asked the Minister of Tourism to also look into an easing of visa regulations to facilitate the travel of citizens for tourism, business, trade, and commerce and promote people-to-people contacts between the two countries, The Vice President also met with the Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UNWTO.
Venkaiah Naidu said that World Tourism Day was celebrated every year with the objective of generating widespread awareness about the social, cultural and economic values of tourism and to encourage global communities to travel, experience and learn to respect the diverse cultures of the world.
The Vice President expressed his happiness at the fact that, in both developed and less developed economies, Travel & Tourism employed a far higher proportion of women than other sectors. He urged more women to explore career opportunities in the tourism sector.
Noting that India had been placed at 34h position out of 140 economies, in the World Economic Forum’s ‘World Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Rank’ in 2019, the Vice President said that it remained the sub-region’s most competitive Travel and Tourism economy.
Outlining the steps taken by the government to make the country accessible and safe to travellers, Shri Naidu applauded the liberalized visa regime and said that it would certainly stimulate business and investment, along with tourism.
Citing that Budget 2019 envisioned the development of 17 iconic tourist sites as world class tourist centres to improve the flow of domestic and foreign tourists, the Vice President said that we must focus on the augmentation and up gradation of tourism infrastructure, making it world-class. He called upon corporate sector to supplement the efforts of the governments in this regard.
The Vice President asked people, especially the youth to visit at least 15 tourist destinations within India by 2022 to give boost to domestic tourism, as per the suggestion made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Venkaiah Naidu urged students of the country to undertake ‘Bharat Dashan’ to learn about various facets of India’s culture, heritage, languages and cuisine and enhance their understanding of the unique cultural mosaic of the country. ‘This understanding would help them devise ingenuous and effective solutions to the challenges faced by the country today’, he said.
Stating that tourism was a key enabler of people to people contact, the Vice President said that tourism helps in winning hearts and minds. ‘Tourism teaches us many lessons. It helps us imbibe the qualities of patience and tolerance. When we see new places, our knowledge of the world and understanding will be enhanced’, he added.
Shri Naidu stressed that there is a need to keep in mind the aspect of ‘ethics’ in travel and added that tourism should benefit people and the environment in different destinations. ‘It should offer better income to families living in the area, by sourcing products and services locally. It should serve as a tool for the empowerment of local communities’, he opined.
He advised the service providers to continuously strive for service excellence, and to make conservation and sustainability an integral part of their business model.
The Vice President also underscored India’s tremendous potential in the field of medical tourism and said that India must leverage its ancient practices of healing such as Ayurveda and Yoga to attract more tourists who seek holistic wellness.
Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Hon’ble Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvii, Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and others were present on the occasion.