After long years of hoopla and hullabaloo, it seems the travel and tourism industry has started getting its due from Indian states. There is definitely a late swing in favour of tourism from states across the country to identify and develop infrastructure based on their respective strengths. For avid industry watchers, it looks as if states are competing with each other virtually to draw policies with one-upmanship, for luring prospective investors. While ‘single-window’ clearance was in vogue for some time now, going a step further, some states have started talking about ‘single desk’ system. A change of attitude is palpable even in the bureaucracy, which for a long time considered matters of policy-making their fiefdom. There is a growing tendency in the government to take into confidence and involve the industry before framing policies that concern them, which to some extent is appreciable.
There is a lot to cheer about for industry stakeholders and their fraternal associations as things have started working to their benefit. After long years of lobbying and persuasions, the governments have started considering demands like licensing, taxation, financing, etc. Maharashtra has announced its decision to cut licences for the hospitality sector by 75%. Another key gateway city state, Delhi, has already set the ball rolling to ease licence raj in the sector in consultations with the stakeholders. States like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Karnataka, all have come forward with pro-active policies to promote tourism by working in tandem with the private industry. Since policies have been framed, the need of the hour is proper implementation and following them in true spirit as drafted, and ensuring the ideas don’t just remain on paper.
However, amidst all these progressive talks, Incredible India continues to be held back from achieving the deserved because of the nation’s perception internationally. If it was the global backlash couple of years ago in the wake of infamous Nirbhaya sexual assault case, today, there is a different set of problems taking a toll on India’s image. Incidents of heinous crimes perpetuated in the name of ‘culture’ by self-claimed guardians of Indian culture and civilization is not helping the cause of India tourism. When food is an inevitable component of a travellers destination experience, dictating what to eat and what not would be suicidal. Tourism is a major tool for cross cultural exchanges, therefore a skewed approach, especially from the state itself, could prove ignominious to say the least!
P Krishna Kumar
Bureau Chief, New Delhi