Safety and security of tourists is topmost priority: Chiranjeevi
Union Tourism Minister K Chiranjeevi, who has expressed his deep anguish at the reported attempt to assault a British tourist in Agra, said that safety and security of tourists is the topmost priority of his ministry.
Addressing the consultative committee of his ministry here yesterday, Chiranjeevi informed the Members of the Committee that he has immediately ordered suspension of the three star rating of the Hotel involved in the incident.
He said the Ministry of Tourism has also issued a show cause notice to the hotel asking it why its license should not be cancelled.
Chiranjeevi informed the members that he has spoken to the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and requested him to put in place a proper system to ensure the safety and security of tourists especially women and children.
He also informed the members that he has started contacting personally all the Chief Ministers urging them to institute an adequate safety mechanism for tourists in their respective states.
Chiranjeevi said that his ministry has set a target to double the receipt of international tourist arrivals by 2016 taking 2011 as base.
"This would mean that our foreign tourist arrivals need to register a growth of 12 percent per annum. For the purpose, the focus of my Ministry would be to improve existing infrastructure, create new infrastructure, broad base human resource development, overcome seasonality of Indian tourism by developing niche tourism products, expand the range of Indian tourism destinations by developing lesser known destinations and undertake aggressive promotional and marketing activities," he said.
Chiranjeevi said that last year, foreign tourist arrivals to the country registered a growth of 5.4 percent and foreign exchange earnings in rupee terms registered an impressive growth of 21.8 percent.
He said the growth registered in terms of foreign tourist arrivals was significant for our country especially considering the fact that world tourist arrivals as a whole increased only by 3.8 percent last year. At the same time, he expressed his concern over India's low share in international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts.
Chiranjeevi said, India today receives only 0.64 percent of international tourist arrivals and accounts for 1.61 percent of international tourism receipts.
To increase India's share in International Tourism, Chiranjeevi said, "My effort is to make India as a round the year destination - a destination for 365 days - a destination for all seasons. For this purpose, we are developing various niche products like rural tourism, wellness and medical tourism, eco and adventure tourism, golf and polo tourism, film tourism, MICE tourism, cuisine and shopping tourism and cruise tourism."
"Our wellness and medical tourism products have been very well received in overseas tourism markets and I am happy to inform you that this sector is growing at the rate of around 20 percent per annum," he added.
Chiranjeevi said, while trying to concentrate on the growth of foreign tourist arrivals, we are not going to loose focus on domestic tourism.
He said in order to popularise and promote domestic travel, the Tourism Ministry has launched a new campaign "Go Beyond" which means go beyond the obvious.
"This campaign will help the Ministry develop lesser-known destinations," he added.
Members participating in the discussion appreciated the efforts of the Ministry and made various suggestions. Expressing concern over recent attacks on foreign tourists in various parts of the country and subsequent advisories issued by the concerned countries, the members requested the tourism Minister to take up this issue with the respective state governments, more vigorously.
The members who attended the meeting were: P C Gaddigoudar, Sripad Yesso Naik and Virender Kashyap (All from Lok Sabha), Dr Chandan Mitra, S Thangavelu, Tarini Kanta Roy and Ranbir Singh Prajapati (All from Rajya Sabha).