Centre, states should be on same page

Arvind Singh, Secretary, MOT, says Centre and States have to work in tandem to achieve the country’s goals.

Nisha Verma

Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, speaking at the three-day National Conference of State Tourism Ministers, said that the tourism sector was badly hit in the last two years because of COVID-19. “The G-20 Presidency offers a unique opportunity for India to boost its tourism sector, and the revival of tourism sector will generate employment opportunities in India,” he said.

Conference
Saying that the purpose behind the conference was to get together for the first time after two years of the pandemic, Singh shared, “We wanted to discuss strategies and how we can take tourism to the next level and how to revitalise it. We have reports of good activities happening in the domestic sector and thus the discussions at the conference will form recommendations that, in turn, will form policy actions by the state governments as well as the national government, which will revitalise the sector further. Secondly, it would result in a healthy competition among states to adopt similar policies to attract tourism. Thirdly, we wanted to sensitise the states because of the ensuing G20 Presidency of India starting next year, which will see 55 destinations hosting 215 meetings. We want the states to be sensitised about the expectations and how do we give a unique Indian experience to the delegates who come to all these sessions and the G20 meetings from January 2023.”

He added, “We all want tourism to be a national priority and the central and state governments should work in tandem as one team to deliver this focus. For that, we want to come out with strategies after our deliberations, which will determine the future of the tourism sector in the country. We need to work on the same page and think along the same lines. This is important given that we are in the process of revival of tourism after the devastating impact of the pandemic.”

When states meet each other, there is a sharing of experiences. “What is being done in Kashmir may not be relevant for Mizoram, but there is a lot to learn. The best practices of one state can be seen by other states for emulation and for improvement. I am sure the ideas shared in the conference have ignited the minds of state representatives, which they can go back and implement in their states,” he said.

Taking inspiration for G20
He claimed that we should use the G20 Presidency to project the strong cases of our nation and showcase the country to the global leaders, who come here from the G20 economies, which control the major part of world GDP. “If we are successful in doing that, I am sure it would transform our tourism sector to the next level. The state government representatives are aware about most of the meetings and are working with MEA to decide the venues in terms of logistics, connectivity, availability of convention space, and other such facilities in the state,” said Singh

Strong tourism policy
He claimed that the conference gave an opportunity to take stock and move in one direction. “It gave an idea of the priorities, refelection of which will also be seen in the National Tourism Policy, which will be shortly unveiled. It will going to the cabinet before that. I think all the states are now on the same page as the central government, which was one of the main themes because we had not had any discussions physically in the last two years, thanks to the pandemic, as most of our discussions were online,” he opined.

Overseas promotions
Speaking on physical promotional events in foreign markets, Singh shared, “Hopefully we should start shortly. We will start physical activities and we are hoping that the WTM London will be the first event where it would restart.”

Take away
According to Singh, the takeaway of the convention is that we work hard to take India tourism to pre-pandemic levels and we are already seeing a strong revival in the domestic tourism sector. “We should take it up further, take it to pre-pandemic levels and hopefully do all that is required including promotion to attract more foreign tourists into India,” he suggested.

Dharamshala declaration
The conference ended with a document being released by the MOT, called the Dharamshala Declaration 2022, which set the tone of the goal the conference was set to achieve as a result of the discussions during the three days.

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