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India needs to get millions more tourists

September 20, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

K.J. Alphons Kannanthanam, India’s new Minister for tourism and Minister of State for electronics and information technology, from ‘Gods own country’ Kerala, is a dynamic bureaucrat turned politician  and is passionate to see positive transformation in India’s tourism.

Mr Alphons inaugurated ICON 2017, the annual convention of IATA Agents Association of India (IAAI) at Cherai Beach Resort in Kerala on Friday. Addressing travel agents as partners and foot soldiers who actually bring-in tourists to the country, he said:  “India is an amazing country and needs to get millions more tourists. The fact that we’re a 5000 year old civilization and have a great philosophy is reason enough to bring tourists. But unless we pursue and make tourists take positive ‘experience India impression’ to folks back home and tell about its safety, we will not be able to attract (big arrival figures)”. IATA Travel agents have diversified into packaging tours after commission cuts by airlines.

IAAI President Biji Eapen with India Tourism Minister K J Alphons

According to the minister, a behavioural change of a smile and courtesy in all tourism stakeholders, standardising of some Indian dishes to international specifications and highlighting of dozens and dozens of Indian art forms will help attract more tourists.

For furthering tourism, his idea is to choose 10 or even five destinations in each of India’s 36(including 4 Union Territories) states and develop those as model places. He cited an example of 1000 plus acres of land leased to TATA Tea in Munnar, Kerala that is due for expiry. Minister said: “We can take the vast land across green hills, get an international consultant and convert it into a good tourist destination in an eco-friendly way.” He added that Kerala’s popular annual boat race could be organised more often for tourists’ enjoyment.

Minister said that: “Effective GST rates are lower than the collective tax rates that luxury hoteliers paid earlier (before introduction of GST on 1July 2017)” while answering to laments of agent on high GST (Goods & Service Tax) rates for hotels and restaurants. He justified high fuel rates in India as the government needed money for developments. “We can only tax those who have, to upgrade the situation of 30 million poor people who can’t afford more than one meal a day.”

ICON 2017 Lighting of the lamp

He said that his government is committed to providing infrastructure. It’s laying 30 kilometers of new road everyday and is unwavering in its promise to provide basics to all through electricity to every house by 2018, toilet facility to every Indian by 2019 and a house to every family by 2022.

Minister’s attendance at ICON 2017 also marked the official acceptance of the 850 member strong 15 year old association by India Tourism. Mr Sanjay Srivats, Regional Director, India Tourism, Chennai, said: “We’ll hence forward invite IAAI to participate in all our activities and also include them during hotel inspections for issuing certification.”

Written by Anand & Madhura Katti

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Andris Blums says:

    As a regular annual visitor to India for the last 30 years , there are 2 types of visitors , those who fall in love and those that never return . There is little or no domestic tourism in India , thus tourist facilities are not well developed except in Goa and Kerala to some extent

    Of about 6.5 million international tourists , almost all are from regional countries , 1 million the largest group are from Bangladesh .

    Since the new millennium international Goan tourism has been in decline due to various government policies at the local level and in New Delhi exacerbated by the almost annual changes to visa policy and related issues

    A simple thing like a Indian SIM card can take a day to arrange and it may not be activated for a week or more .

    Even the locals in Goan who service tourism and rely for there livelihood on it have few kind words to say about the State and New Delhi tourism policy flip flops

    Andris

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