Union Minister of State (I//C) for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel virtually attended BRICS Tourism Ministers’ meeting today. Tourism Ministers of the other BRICS Member States also participated In the meeting.
During the virtual meeting Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said that the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected various economic activities cutting across all sectors and has brought about many challenges especially for the tourism sector globally. India too is facing similar challenges. However, due to visionary and bold leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has been able to successfully manage the pandemic.
Patel said that the tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy of the country both in GDP and employment apart from being a key sector for foreign exchange earnings. The tourism sector has been the hardest hit and the Government of India has announced several economic stimulus packages and many other fiscal and relief measures for the survival of businesses, employee retention and sectoral revival. The Provincial Governments have also taken similar measures to support the Businesses.
He further stated that Indian tourism, travel & hospitality industry is highly diverse. There are micro, small, medium and large enterprises across the whole spectrum. Our Prime Minister has laid out a vision for a Self Reliant India (Atmanirbhar Bharat) whereby collateral free automatic loans have been made available for MSMEs to enable them deal with the crisis and revive the economy including the tourism sector of India. The Ministry of Tourism has been in a continuous dialogue with the representatives of Tourism & Hospitality industry stakeholders to discuss solutions and way forward to revive the tourism economy by reviving demand, especially through promotion of Domestic Tourism to build the confidence and trust of the tourists.
He also informed that India is gradually opening up to receive visitors. India has made bubble arrangements with 18 countries. India has also restored existing visas for business, conference, employment, studies, research, and medical purposes. I look forward to early revival of the global tourism sector. The Ministry of Tourism along with Ministry of Health has laid down COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols and operational guidelines covering all the service providers in the travel and hospitality sector to ensure safety of the visitors and staff. In order to assist and build the capacity of the hospitality industry in their preparedness for COVID-19 safety, the Ministry has recently launched an initiative called SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry).
Patel said that with the objective of creating a pool of well trained and professional Tourist Facilitators across the country, the Ministry of Tourism has launched the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator (IITF) Certification Programme – a digital initiative that aims at creating an Online learning platform. The Ministry is organizing a series of webinars under the theme Dekho Apna Desh, to showcase the diverse culture, heritage, undiscovered destinations and unusual facets of popular tourist spots to promote domestic tourism and help develop local economies.
The Digitalisation and innovation will facilitate the development of tourism and hospitality sector. Digital media is being utilized fully to promote and spread awareness about the tourist destinations and activities. The Government is working with the Industry in adopting digital technologies and innovation, he added.
At the end, the minister complimented the Russian Federation for a successful BRICS Presidency in these challenging times and look forward to working together with all BRICS Member States during India’s Presidency in 2021 and hope that we have an opportunity.