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Thursday, 25 April, 2019, 10 : 13 AM [IST]

Tourism Manifesto!

Even the tourism industry honchos were taken aback when the leading opposition party of the country took up the cause of tourism in their Election Manifesto in 2014. That was the first-time in the history of independent India any political party or formation spoke about tourism as part of an Election Manifesto. It is a different matter, while we look back after five years, whether the promises were met or not after they were voted to power. In India, election time promises are not taken seriously by people and never ever a reason for selecting a candidate or political formation during elections.

The attempt is not to belittle the genuine efforts of the government in the last five years. There have been numerous initiatives to place Incredible India on the highest pedestals of global tourism in the last five years. While those measures are there for everyone to see and appreciate, but many of the visionary initiatives mentioned in the 2014 Manifesto haven’t even seen the light of the day. There was a promise to constitute regional councils for different geographical regions like deserts, forests, coastal areas, islands, etc. to create framework for tourism development considering topographical nuances. Similarly, there was another important recommendation to create a dedicated fund for planned development of the ecologically fragile and sensitive Himalayas. Equally, important, the promise of a hi-speed train network connecting the ‘Diamond Quadrilateral’.

Taking a cue from the ruling dispensation, the opposition party this time has come up with some path-breaking recommendations for the tourism sector in their Election Manifesto. Unfortunately, those recommendations went unnoticed as the discussion in the mainstream media was around larger ‘Sankalp’ v/s catchier ‘Nyay’. While the ‘Sankalp Patra’ broadly talks about the need for an ‘integrated’ effort on the part of the different departments of the government to holistically develop destinations of ‘cultural and natural’ importance in the country, the ‘Nyay’ document of the opposition party tried to establish a code that directly appeals to the tourism industry. Key promises include a ‘Special Tax Regime’ for tourism-related business and income; an ‘adequately capitalised Tourism Development Bank’ to provide low-cost, long-term funds tourism-related businesses; and free tourist visas for three years. The Manifesto also suggests measures to activate India’s missions abroad with additional responsibility to encourage and promote tourism into India.

With political leaderships of the country identifying the importance of tourism as an economic driver for the country, the onus is now on the industry to show equal seriousness in following up on these promises and getting them implemented in the same letter and spirit whosoever comes to power!

PKrishna Kumar
Bureau Chief
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