G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting

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    Recently, the Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture (I/c) participated in the G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting held in Italy.

    Key Points 

    • The Minister appreciated and supported the focus of the Italian G20 Presidency on recovery and ensuring new opportunities for People, Planet and Prosperity by putting in place Guidelines on the seven key interrelated policy areas.
    • These areas are:
      • Safe mobility
      • Crisis management Resilience
      • Inclusiveness
      • Green transformation
      • Digital transition 
      • Investment and infrastructure.
        • They are comprehensive and relevant for resilient, sustainable and inclusive tourism framed with the support of the OECD. 

    Tourism Sector in India

    About

    • Tourism plays a role of significant economic multiplier and becomes critical since India has to grow at rapid rates and create jobs. 
    • Tourism is an integral pillar of the Make in India programme.
    • India has over 200 beaches, 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites and 668 protected areas which can attract significant tourism activity.
    • Tourism tends to encourage the development of multiple-use infrastructure including hotels, resorts & restaurants, transport infrastructure (aviation, roads, shipping & railways) and healthcare facilities.

    India as Tourist Attractions

    • Strength: In India, we believe in the concept of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’—a guest is treated as God.
      • The rich cultural heritage, cuisine, the friendly and welcoming attitude of most Indians towards foreigners help in attracting more visitors to India. 
    • Country landscape: The country landscape possesses a gracious natural beauty and can cater to almost every type of traveller whether they are seeking adventure, wellness, culture and heritage or cuisines.
    • Availability of a huge labour force:The availability of a huge labour force both skilled and unskilled can act as a catalyst due to the service-based nature of the tourism industry.
    • India’s gems and jewellery, handicrafts:They are quite popular among tourists.
    • Medical Tourism:  India is emerging as the most preferred destination for Medical Tourism. The availability of world-class medical facilities with top class doctors, personalized nursing care, offering specialized treatments at a cost 1/4th that of developed countries.

    Challenges Associated With Tourism

    • Lack of tourism centric infrastructure.
    • Lack Integration with other industries
    • Higher Cost of travel and limited supply of accommodation compare to neighbouring countries.
    • Lack of Marketing
    • COVID-19 implications due to travel bans

    Government Initiatives

    • Swadesh Darshan Scheme: The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) launched the Central Sector Scheme for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country in 2014-15.
    • PRASHAD Scheme:The scheme was launched in 2015 with a focus on identifying and developing pilgrim sites across the country to promote religious tourism.
    • Adopt Heritage Project:  It was launched in 2017 as a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), State/UTs Governments.
      • It envisages the development and maintenance of tourist amenities at heritage sites and making them tourist-friendly.
    • ‘Stranded in India’ portal: The Ministry of Tourism launched it to help foreign tourists stuck in various parts of India.
      • A special visa category called ‘Medical Visa and Medical Attendant Visa’ has been created to ease the entry of medical tourists in India.
    • Destination North East-2020: It is an annual event of the Ministry of Development of the North Eastern Region.
      • The event highlights the Northeast region’s various potentials like eco-tourism, culture, heritage and business.
    • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat: The initiative, ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ was announced by the Prime Minister in  2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 
      • This innovative measure enhances the bonding between the states and strengthens the unity and integrity of India.
    • NIDHI: The Ministry of Tourism has created the National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) to get a clear picture of the geographical spread of the Hospitality Sector, its size, structure and existing capacity.
    • System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI): It was launched to ensure compliance with COVID 19 Safety and Hygiene guidelines and to ensure the safety and health of employees/customers.
    • Dekho Apna Desh initiative:The Ministry has also been organizing webinars, quiz, pledge, discussions under the Dekho Apna Desh initiative to keep connected with the stakeholders and to encourage citizens to travel within the country.

    Way Forward

    • Both the state and central governments must work collaboratively to promote the tourism sector through all possible means including tax incentives and concessions.. 
    • India should aggressively campaign with state support to host a handful of the biggest and best global conferences and conventions to send out the message that India is safe and is back in business.
    • India would like to offer to the world, post COVID-19, calm, peace and health through Yoga, Ayurveda and other forms of traditional treatments and spiritual surroundings.  

    G20

    • About: It is the international forum that brings together the world’s major economies. Its members account for more than 80% of world GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of the population of the planet.
    • Establishment: In September 1999 as a consultation forum between Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the world’s major economies.
      • Following the 2008 economic crisis, it became a forum between Heads of State and Government.
    • Members:Comprises 19 countries and the European Union (EU), with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).
      • 19 Countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
    • Aim: To improve coordination on major global issues and to enable informal dialogue and cooperation among important countries in the world.

    Source: PIB