The last four years of the Narendra Modi government have witnessed great progress in the tourism sector. The PM’s high-profile overseas visits and the wide global media coverage they garner have indeed helped Incredible India tremendously. He is undoubtedly India Tourism’s biggest brand ambassador.
That apart, the Ministry of Tourism has consistently mooted policies and programmes in association with Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Culture to drive domestic and international tourist arrivals. Ease of travel to the sub-continent has been drastically enhanced with the liberal e-visa regime initiated in November 2014. We are open now to 163 countries. A simple online application and 24 hours are all it takes to travel to India.
Basic infrastructure is being created on a war footing around our heritage and religious sites through two flagship programmes – ‘Swadesh Darshan’ and ‘PRASAD’. Under these, 67 projects worth Rs. 6537 crore have been sanctioned, of which about 30 projects will be completed and commissioned in 2018.
‘Adopt a Heritage’ Scheme is an innovative PPP (Public-Private Partnership) initiative welcoming corporates, individuals, NGOs and residents’ associations to adopt beaches, monuments and parks, aimed at driving social involvement and ownership. The response to this novel idea has been extremely positive.
The Government of India (GoI) has also launched ‘Iconic Sites’ programme with massive funding from the ‘Swadesh Darshan’ Scheme to create global standard infrastructure to enhance the overall tourism experience.
MoT has initiated work by following a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing. In the Global Tourism Competitiveness Index, we have jumped 25 places in the last four years.
The aim is to double FTAs, domestic tourists and tourism receipts in the next three years. Towards this goal, the Incredible India 2.0 campaign has been launched in key source and other emerging markets. Recently, the MoT released guidelines for adventure tourism, targeting a decent pie of the $490-billion global adventure travel market. 2018 is being celebrated as the ‘Year of Adventure Tourism’.
In another disruptive move, GoI Tourism Offices overseas are being made into eight regional hubs. In the last few years, Yoga and Ayurveda have been marketed worldwide, positioning India beyond a mere sightseeing or experiential destination, into a transformative one. The MoT is on full throttle, thanks to an able administrator at its helm since the last nine months. In Minister K J Alphons we have a sure shot bet to take Incredible India to its rightful place under the sun.