Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, shares that in their meeting with state representatives, they stressed on prioritising vaccination and having a uniform policy all across. Digitally connecting all tourism stakeholders is the next initiative for them.
Ministry of Tourism recently held a video conference with all state tourism boards, where they had discussions over several issues. Sharing details of the same, Arvind Singh said, “I found that a lot of proactive steps have been taken by various states. States like Karnataka and Maharashtra have already given industry status to the hospitality and hotel sector, which provides substantial relief in water and electricity tariffs. Other states have also given some relief depending on their financial resources. However, the general mood and trend that we have seen with state governments is that in this financial year, they have been broadly supportive of the hotels and accommodation industry.”
In fact, Singh also said that the tourism minister is sympathetic towards the hospitality industry and understands their plight. “He knows about all efforts we have taken, and we need to be working side by side with the industry to move forward and see what further measures are required to support the industry,” he added.
In the meeting with the states, participants also spoke over prioritising vaccination for workers in the tourism sector. “In the meeting, I got the sense that there is significant progress in that regard. States like Madhya Pradesh said that they have vaccinated almost all stakeholders. J&K said that almost 90 per cent of tourism workers in the state are vaccinated. Hence, we are seeing work happening in that direction. Also, we saw an uptick in domestic tourism in Central India states,” he informed.
In his dialogue with the states, Singh shared that it was emphasised that all states move towards a uniform policy. “We should lift the restrictions and not make it very difficult. One suggestion that emerged was that we should not insist on RT-PCR certification for those who are fully vaccinated. Recently, Maharashtra took steps in that direction and I hope that other states also follow the same,” he suggested.
Stressing that in the field of digitalisation they have seen development in the NIDHI portal. “We are trying to expand the portal to now cover tour operators and other tourism service providers. Recently, under the directives of the PMO, we set up a taskforce for the national digital tourism mission, which will provide an overall strategy and roadmap for accelerating digitalisation of the tourism sector with the overarching objective for enhancing its competitiveness.
There is a national digital health mission that has come up, which is connecting all the stakeholders within the health sector. Using the same analogy and using similar platforms, we have now started and recently we had a meeting, a live webinar with RS Sharma who has been the guiding force behind the COWIN website and portal, which helped vaccinate more than 40 crore Indians. Also, he is the force behind the national digital health mission, and has helped guide us in the direction, which we are taking. Hence, I think in the coming months, you’d see work happening on setting up a digital tourism mission, which will digitally connect all tourism stakeholders,” he said.
National Tourism Policy
Informing that they are in the process of drafting a new national tourism policy, Singh said, “We have got feedback from some stakeholders, especially relating to post-COVID focus on sustainable and responsible tourism. We are also working on sectoral strategies, including rural tourism, medical tourism, M!CE tourism, eco-tourism and adventure tourism, for which we are seeking public consultation before finalising.”