New Delhi: Mr Satpal Maharaj, Cabinet Minister for Irrigation, Flood Control, Minor Irrigation, Rainwater Harvesting, Water Management, Indo-Nepal Uttarakhand River Projects, Tourism, Pilgrimage & Religious Fairs, Culture, Government of Uttarakhand today said that the state government has extended various fiscal and monetary assistance to the tourism sector and has taken several steps to aid the sector. A package of INR 200 crore has been arranged for COVID-affected service providers like adventure tour operators, and river guides, among others.
Addressing the Valedictory session of the 2nd Travel, Tourism & Hospitality e-Conclave: Resilience & The Road to Recovery, organized by FICCI, Mr Maharaj said that various policies have been undertaken by the state to help the sector revive. “Among the various policies and subsidies that the state has undertaken, the state offers policies to attract and support the film industry to shoot in Uttarakhand. Additionally, we have provided a subsidy of INR 10 lakhs in hilly terrains and INR 7.5 lakhs in plains under the Deendayal Homestay Yojana. 3,400 homestays have been registered so far under this scheme,” he said.
Further, speaking of the latest trends in tourism, Mr Maharaj said that people are also now looking forward to staycations and workations. “Under the Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Yojana, we have started online registrations. We have also developed various circuits to boost local travel,” he said.
Mr Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature & Culture, Government of Odisha, said that the state will be the flag bearer of sports tourism in India. “While the sector reels under the effects of COVID-19, we have been doing the background work needed to elevate the state’s tourist destinations. Puri is the first city in the country to boast of direct tap drinking water. We are now trying to replicate the same in other tourist destinations as well,” he said.
Further, Mr Panigrahi said that while the state government for the development of religious tourist destinations had sanctioned INR 200 and 350 crores in 2019 and 2020 respectively, this year encompassing all religious projects, the Govt of Odisha has sanctioned a budget of INR 1,500 crores to make religious destinations ready post-COVID.
“Even though international travel has taken a backseat, domestic travel and tourism is slowly on the rise. The projects that we are taking up currently will help the tourism sector in a positive way. We are trying to further make the sector future-proof while improving the livelihood of local communities. We have drafted the Odisha Tourism Development Facilitation and Regulation Bill that will empower the govt to register service providers, regulate activities in tourist areas, facilitate bonafide investment proposals and ensure tourist safety against malpractices,” he said.
Mr Vasanbhai Ahir, Tourism Minister of State, Government of Gujarat said that tourists coming to the state in 2019-2020 had crossed the seven-crore mark. “The Govt of Gujarat has sanctioned INR 100 cr in developing the Shivrajpur beach, near Dwarika. Similarly, INR 50 cr had been sanctioned for the development and upkeep of the Junagadh Fort, the work for which has already begun. Gujarat boasts of Asia’s longest ropeway and is the only place in the world that boasts of a white desert,” he said.
Mr Souvagya Mohapatra, Chair, FICCI Eastern Region Tourism Committee & Managing Director (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan), Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts said that the tourism, travel, and hospitality industry was the first to suffer and probably, will be the last to recover.
“Our industry, known for its remarkable resilience, will rise to the occasion and come out of this crisis. Tourism and hospitality has always been a self-sustaining sector. However, assistance from the government is the need of the hour. Domestic tourism will drive the revival and the growth of tourism in our country. Seamless movement between states will help restart tourism. It is also important for states to create sustainable tourism and streamline the carrying capacity of destinations to preserve the local ecosystem,” he noted.
Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said although COVID had undoubtedly resulted in a setback of the travel and hospitality sector, it has also given us an opportunity to rethink how we can reinvent the sector and make ourselves future-ready in more resilient ways. “In the short run, domestic tourism will help restart the industry. The partnerships between the Centre and states, and state and state are going to be key to achieving this goal,” he said.