Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa and Rajasthan bagged top honours at the National Tourism Awards 2016-2017, which were presented by Union minister K J Alphons on Thursday.
The awards were given in various segments of travel, tourism and hospitality industries. The tourism minister also launched the ‘Incredible India’ mobile app and the ‘Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification’ programme.
Andhra Pradesh bagged the top prize for promoting ‘Andhra Pradesh Tourism’ as a global brand, Kerala came second for comprehensive development of tourism. Rajasthan and Goa shared the third spot.
The awardees were chosen on the basis of several parameters including tourist footfall, initiative of the state government and policies implemented to make the state tourist-friendly.
A total of 77 awards were presented to the tourism industry stakeholders, state governments, central agencies and individuals.
Speaking on the occasion, Alphons said India has made great strides in the field of tourism during the last four years of the Modi government.
Today, tourism is the cornerstone of the Indian economy as it is a major source of employment and foreign exchange and in order to tap the full potential of this sector, the industry has to join hands, he said.
“The tourism sector needs to improve its hospitality services since it is the hospitality offered which is the distinguishing feature of India and gives it an edge over other countries,” Alphons said.
It is the responsibility of every citizen to build the image of the country as a safe tourist destination, he added.
He also announced that India will be host the World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO in 2019.
Speaking about the ‘Incredible India’ mobile app, the minister said it has been designed keeping in mind the preferences of the modern traveller and follows the trends and technologies of international standards.
It will showcase India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga and wellness, among others.
Alphons said the ministry has also formulated a voluntary scheme for approval of operational motels with effect from September 25, 2018.
It is aimed at recognising the motel segment as a component of the overall tourism product and to set standards of facilities and services of motels, he added.
Alphons said flood-ravaged Kerala is ready to receive tourists since the hotels and tourist sites are now operational.
He said Kerala is rapidly recovering from the disaster and now is the time for the tourism industry to support the state’s tourism sector.