Inclusivity is the way forward

Ministry of Tourism (MOT) celebrated the World Tourism Day with a physical ceremony that saw in attendance tourism leaders from the government and the private sector.

Nisha Verma

With the theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’, World Tourism Day 2021 focused on inclusive, responsible and sustainable travel.

While G Kamala Vardhan Rao, DG, MOT, welcomed everyone at the event, a video message by Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, UNWTO, set the right tone for the day. The Chief Guest for the day was Om Birla, Lok Sabha Speaker. In his address, G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of Tourism, Culture & DoNER, said that vaccination will be a huge confidence booster for the tourism industry. “Today, there is a need to focus on safety and health-related issues, and hence we have the biggest vaccine drive in the world, running in our country. The tourism sector has the capability to boost the social, cultural, economic and human resource development of the country and it can bring all the sectors together, in turn contributing to our national integration. In addition, we are planning a conference with the tourism ministers of South Indian states on the same lines.”

Shripad Yesso Naik, MoS, Tourism, said that “The tourism sector touches almost every part of our economy and society there by benefitting historically marginalised people and those at risk of being left behind. There is no other industry that plays a crucial role in the overall development of the country, by creating job opportunities for all sectors of the society. Hence, revival of tourism plays an important role in recovering the global economy, and sustainability is relevant for both the developed and developing countries.”

In his keynote address, Birla said that committed and collective efforts will ensure that India emerges as the best tourist destination in the world. “India’s domestic and foreign policies have provided an enabling environment for promotion of tourism. Our goal must be to make India the number one tourist destination in the world. In this regard, more and more efforts should be made to develop tourist-friendly destinations.” Birla also laid emphasis on using IT tools in order to promote tourism, both at the domestic and the international levels.

He also launched NIDHI 2.0 (National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry) and released “India Tourism Statistics: At a Glance, 2021. In addition, MOT, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) have signed an MoU to actively promote and support ‘sustainability initiatives’ in the tourism sector, which was also exchanged at the event.

For Arvind Singh, Secretary Ministry of Tourism, World Tourism Day is a critical moment as countries around the world look up to tourism for being an economic driver. “It is possible to revive the tourism sector quickly by reviving demand especially of domestic tourism. We are targeting last-mile connectivity through Viability Gap Funding to MoCA under RCS UDAN scheme. Also, we are in discussion with the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways for improving road connectivity to important destinations,” he said.

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