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Infrastructure, Preservation of Monuments and Budget Hotels to Drive Tourism: Finance Minister
Sep 22, 2016

India must build tourist infrastructure, preserve and market monuments, and develop moderately-priced hotels, stated Hon’ble Mr Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs. He was speaking at the inaugural of the Incredible India Tourism Investors’ Summit (IITIS) organized by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India in New Delhi today.

Highlighting that India has natural beauty, pilgrim centers, and booming urban centers, the Minister said that business tourism and student tourism is being promoted. The shortage of connectivity has been addressed with 70 functional airports and 30-35 more airports to be added for regional connectivity, he added. India also has the fastest growing highway network, while the railways are focusing on quality, faster trains and station redevelopment.

The Finance Minister stated that industry should develop the right business models. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate would be higher if more exemptions were to be provided, he stressed. Facilitation by government in terms of electronic visas, marketing and tourism promotion and preservation of monuments would be provided and as India’s position in the global economy improves, tourism too will benefit, he noted.

Hon’ble Shri Jaitley released a publication compiling tourism policies of most states and Union Territories. The inaugural was also attended by Hon’ble Mr Ashok Gajapati Raju, Minister of Civil Aviation.

Shri N Chandrababu Naidu, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, observed that as a service sector, the tourism industry creates the highest employment, direct and indirect. “India has all advantages,” he stressed, and it has emerged as a priority sector for the government. Creating the right ecosystem and marketing are important to boost the sector, he felt.

The Chief Minister emphasized that Andhra Pradesh achieved almost 11% growth rate the previous year, and his target is to raise this to 14-15% in the current year. The state is stressing creating the right ecosystem to make tourism a growth driver. He gave the example of Tirupati Temple as an ecosystem for generating jobs.

Mr Mahesh Sharma, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture, said that tourism has been identified as a priority sector by the Prime Minister. He added that the target is to raise the share of India in aggregate tourist arrivals to 1% by 2020 and further to 2% by 2025. While electronic visa facility has been provided to 150 countries, it will be offered for more countries shortly.

The IITIS, the first such event for the tourism sector, has large participation from states to create a conducive atmosphere for investments, added the Minister. “We have addressed cleanliness, hospitality and tourist safety and security and this is the time to join hands for the tourism sector,” said the Minister.

Mr PK Sinha, Cabinet Secretary, pointed to the huge requirements for infrastructure, including in sanitation and tourism infrastructure. He said that the time is just right for the private sector to invest in the tourism sector. He also stressed the need to treat tourists well and avoid complaints.

Mr Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Tourism, stated that tourism is expected to touch revenues of $419 billion by 2022, and has immense potential to create jobs and drive growth. The IITIS has the participation 29 states and Union Territories with over 700 projects of investment opportunity. 23 seminars are being held during the three-day event, and 16 countries including USA, Qatar, Malaysia and others are participating. An exhibition and 3000 business to business meetings are being held at the event.

Dr Naushad Forbes, President, CII, said that India has low tourist inflows compared to smaller countries, and the IITIS aims at raising awareness on bankable projects in the country. Pointing to the success of France, he stressed that India at this juncture too has fortunes to be made in investing in tourism.

Mr Vivek Nair, Chairman and Managing Director, Hotel Leela Venture Ltd, requested the government to offer a congenial climate for investments in the hotel sector.

Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, stated that the IITIS has the presence of all stakeholders to boost the tourism sector of the country.

New Delhi

21 September 2016

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