UP’s new tourism policy set to increase visitors

Context:

  • Uttar Pradesh has launched a tourism policy aimed at increasing the footfalls of domestic visitors by 15% and foreign tourists by 10%.

What is the new tourism policy?

  • The Uttar Pradesh government announced a new tourism policy on 19 February, 2018 to increase the footfall of tourists as well as investments in the state.

Objective:

  • The policy is aimed at not only developing new tourist circuits and infrastructure on the public-private partnership model but also creating livelihood opportunities.
  • The government says it will attract an annual investment of Rs 5,000 crore and help 5 lakh people find employment, directly or indirectly.
  • The government plans to develop and promote 10 major circuits, like Ramayana, Krishna (Braj), Mahabharat, Shakti Peeth, Jain, Sufi/Kabir, Buddhist, spiritual, Bundelkhand and wildlife and eco-tourism.
  • Various investment opportunities, economic incentives and benefits will be provided within 20 km of these circuits.
  • The Tourism Department also plans to promote a “bread and breakfast” scheme and include ashrams in it.
  • To encourage investment, these houses will be charged domestic water and power taxes.

Duration:

  • The policy will be applicable for the next five years.

Union budget allocation:

  • Under the 2018-19 budget, Rs 70 crore was allotted for the implementation of the new tourism policy.

What are the developmental plans for the Taj Mahal under the new tourism policy by the Uttar Pradesh government? 

The government has not revealed any elaborate plan for the Taj Mahal.

  • But there are plans for a construction of a walkway to connect the monument with the other Mughal marvel, Agra Fort.
  • Along with expenses occurred on the restoration of Shahjahan Park, the cost of this pathway will be Rs 22 crore.
  • In October last year, the government said it had allotted Rs 370 crore for a tourism development scheme for Agra, of which Rs 156 crore was set aside for the Taj Mahal and areas near it.
  • The World Bank will assist the government in this scheme, which has been sent to the Centre for approval.
  • The scheme will also involve the restoration of Agra’s Kachpura and Mehtab Bagh, construction of a sewage treatment plant.
  • A visitors’ centre, and revamp of traffic arrangements on the western entrance to the monument will also be created.

Ministry of Tourism:

  • India’s rank in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI), 2017.
  • Rank of India in TTCI Report of 2017 was 40thas compared to 52nd in 2015 and 65th in 2013.

Tourism statistics: (Updated)

January-November 2017:

  • Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January-November 2017 were 90.01 lakh with a growth of 15.6% over same period of previous year.
  • Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) during the period January-November 2017 were Rs.1,60,865 Crore with a growth of 16.9% over same period of previous year.

January, 2018:

  • The number of FTAs in January, 2018 was 10.66 lakh as compared to FTAs of 9.83 lakh in January, 2017.
  • During the month of January, 2018, a total of 2.40 lakh foreign tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa as compared to 1.52 lakh during the month of January, 2017 registering a growth of 58.5%.

What are the wide ranges of opportunities for the tourism sector of India?

The wide ranges of opportunities for India in the tourism sector are as follows:

  • Geographical diversity: From Kashmir to Kanyakumari or from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat, the wide variety in the landscape offers a range of choices to tourists from within India and the abroad.
  • Cultural heritage: Apart from the natural landscapes, the cultural heritage spread across the country also offers huge potential for the development of tourism in the country.
  • Birthplace of Religions:India is the birthplace of three religions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • The vast landscape has innumerable sacred and religious tourist places which are bound to attract tourists from across the South East and East Asian countries.
  • Domestic tourists: India is the second most populous country in the world with over 1.25 billion populations.
  • In other words, they offer a minimum of potential 1.25 billion domestic tourist visits if the right policies and the infrastructure are in place.

What are the major roadblocks for the tourism sector of India?

The three-fold major roadblocks for the tourism sector of India are as follows:

  • Lack of Infrastructure:It is a major challenge for the Indian tourism sector.
  • Tourism-associated economic and social infrastructure – hotels, connectivity, human resources, hygiene, health facilities, etc are largely under developed in India.
  • The poor quality of infrastructure is reflected in India’s 112nd rank in the ICT readiness component and 104th rank in the health and hygiene components of the WEF’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2017.
  • Safety and security:Safety and security of tourists, especially of the foreign tourists, is a major roadblock to the tourism development.
  • Attacks on foreign nationals, especially on women, raise questions about India’s ability to welcome tourists from far away countries.
  • Among the 130 countries surveyed, India was placed at the 114th position in terms of safety and security aspect in the WEF Index 2017.
  • Accessibility:Majority of the tourist spots in the country are not accessible to poor, women and elderly.
  • This is because of high costs of travelling, poor connectivity and a series of permissions required for various reasons.

The other roadblocks:

  • Poor transportation
  • Non-standardization of rates and fares
  • Lack of sound marketing and promotion strategies
  • Poor maintenance of heritages
  • Costly travel – soaring fuel surcharges, poor flight management etc
  • Gap between demand and supply of manpower
  • Uneven progress – slow growth of village tourism, lack of information about tourist profile etc • Non Implementation of Legislative Law
  • Tourism development projects are usually developed by Indian Government without any discussion with community leaders and they are dumped to follow the ineffective projects blindly
  • Absence of alternate site nearby and fair and festival creates a bottleneck problem in crowd management.
  • Involvement of too many agents and tourism operators also makes the cost of tourism package too high in India
  • Lack of entrepreneurship opportunities also restrict youth to follow a career in Tourism such as opening a hotel resort or retail outlet or handicraft business to serve Tourism Industry in India.

What are the government initiatives and projects for the tourism industry of India? (Updated)

Development of tourism infrastructure is being given priority to provide a better tourism experience to the tourists. The developmental initiatives and projects under the government for the tourism industry of India are as follows:

  • Projects sanctioned: A total number of 11 projects have been sanctioned during 2017-18 for a total amount of Rs.824.80 Crore.
  • With this the total number of 67 projects have been sanctioned till date for an amount of Rs.5648.71 Crore under this Scheme.
  • Swadesh Darshan Scheme: Theme based circuits are being developed under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme spanning the entire country.
  • PRASHAD Scheme: Holistic development of identified pilgrimage destinations is being undertaken under the ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive’ (PRASHAD) Scheme.
  • ‘Adopt A Heritage’ project: Ministry of Tourism has recently launched the ‘Adopt A Heritage’ project.
  • Heritage sites are being offered for adoption by the public sector, private sector and individuals to become ‘Monument Mitras’ for developing amenities and facilities at these sites under this programme.
  • ‘Special Tourism Zones’: Creation of ‘Special Tourism Zones’ anchored on Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) in partnership with the States was announced in the Budget for 2017-18.
  • Ministry of Tourism has formulated the guidelines for implementation of the new scheme in consultation with the State Governments and Private Sector and is in the process of completing other formalities before launching the scheme.
  • Creation of Special Tourism Zones would lead to overall development of the areas and offer diverse tourism experiences
  • It would help in creating livelihood and improve standards of local communities living in those areas.
  • Incredible India 2.0 Campaign:  Ministry of Tourism launched “Incredible India 2.0 Campaign”.
  • The Incredible India 2.0 Campaign is being released in the prime existing markets as well as important potential markets.
  • Niche tourism products like Heritage Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Cruise Tourism, Rural Tourism, Wellness & Medical Tourism, MICE, Golf, etc. are being promoted through the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign.

Conclusion:

  • Consumer trends in tourism, which are gradually changing.
  • It requires an appropriate response in terms of both policy formulation and investment.
  • The survival of the tourism industry depends decisively on recognizing the relevant trends and allowing for them in good time.
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