‘Keen to make tourism top economic activity’

Manisha Saxena, the newly appointed Director General of Tourism, is keen to promote tourism assets of India to the world through various mediums. G20 Presidency is a big opportunity for the country to leverage tourism as one of the foremost economic activities, she says.

Nisha Verma

Manisha Saxena, Director General, Tourism, is not new to the sector, having served as the Principal Secretary, Tourism, Government of Mizoram, before moving to the Central Ministry in March. Sharing her views on the sector, she says, “I think there is an overall focus on tourism and the Honourable Prime Minister has been constantly underlining the need to develop India as a tourism hub, so that it can lead to better livelihoods and better jobs in this sector. We are a country of thousands years of history and we have a lot to showcase. The idea is to tell all those stories in a way that entices foreign tourists and encourage domestic tourists to see the country. Even one lifetime is not enough to see all of India. I think the sooner one starts, the better it is. I have been posted in Delhi, Goa and even Northeast. Thus, I feel that it is a country of such diversity that people living in one region cannot even imagine what the other region would be like. Hence, it will be good if everybody can travel a lot and learn about the diversity in the country. My endeavour in this ministry would be to facilitate that process and become a part of it in whatever way possible.”

G20 Presidency
Talking about India’s G20 Presidency, she shares, “It is a big opportunity to leverage tourism as one of the foremost economic activities and let the world see what we have to offer. Accordingly, the strategy for G20 events has been planned in such a way that we are going to 56 cities with so many events happening. Every ministry is doing an event in a new destination. Hence, I think it will be a huge showcase for the international community with the kind of efforts that are being taken. As part of G20 events, entire cities are improving their infrastructure. It’s not just one event. A lot of effort is being put into making that destination a more beautiful, pre-sustainable, more attractive for all kinds of tourists. I think word of mouth publicity and international showcasing, as part of the G20 Presidency events, will go a long way in promoting tourism as a whole and we need to take this opportunity to also learn from international experience and see what we can do better to leverage this as our strength.”

Key focus
In her new role, informs Saxena, “My focus would be to facilitate the tourism sector in as many ways as possible, as part of MOT’s overall policy. I just want to be a part of the team which delivers tourism as one of the foremost economic activities in India.”

Technology integration
Talking about the power of technology in today’s travel industry, she comments, “In earlier days, when you planned a trip, you consulted a travel agent or you spoke to someone who has been on that side of the world. Now everybody just picks up their phone or laptop and browse. Hence, a digital presentation of your strengths is very important as a destination and a lot of states have done some good work on it. Almost everyone has a website and a tourism app. However, challenge of digitalization is how to combine all of it with the places where all the action is. I think we are working keenly on it, and we will be able to bridge that gap. We are leveraging the strength of social media and using digital media, AR, VR, evidence-based studies from the visitors from various countries. All that is in process. It will throw up some very good insights and we will be able to work on those.”

Trade engagement
Saxena informs that she has met some of the travel and stakeholders already and is keen on more such engagements. “I look forward to meet as many people as possible and hear their viewpoints, understand their perspectives and then accordingly work with everybody to make things better,” she assures.

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