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Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 22 : 26 PM [IST]

Local self-governments should own up the responsibility of upkeep and hygiene of destinations: Union Tourism Minister

While conceding that safety and hygiene are major issues at tourist destinations in India, KJ Alphons, Minister of State with Independent Charge of Tourism, Government of India said that responsibility needed to be fixed to improve both the issues. As far as upkeep and hygiene are concerned, the Minister said that the local self-governments should own up the responsibility to make our tourist destinations including areas around monuments neat and clean.  

The Union Minister was delivering the keynote at the Annual CII National Tourism Summit in New Delhi today.  

Talking specifically on the issues of pollution in the capital city and around, Alphons said that 40% of the city’s pollution is due to road dust and construction related dust, and local bodies should act strongly by following international protocols for construction activities. 

 Commenting on the issues of safety and the perception deficit that India is facing due to stray incidences, the Minister said that while intrusion on the privacy of tourists by locals in any manner is “highly deplorable”, the international media is highly biased against India while reporting such incidents. He said that major incidents of shoot out happening in cities in the US go unreported while smaller incidents happening in India get blown out of proportion in the international media. 

He reiterated his idea of making destinations and our monuments more lively with events and entertainments after sunset to make local economy benefit from tourism. He said that most of our heritage destinations are “hit and run” destinations for tourists for lack of avenues for entertainment after sunset. 

Earlier, delivering a special address, Deep Kalra, Founder & CEO of MakeMyTrip said that Indian inbound is largely bi-polar and India has not been able to tap the large middle income travellers from markets like Americas, Europe, Far East, etc. Despite having best of mid-segment hotels in India, we lose out to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia the vast mid-market travellers, Kalra said. Kalra said that India as a destination suffers from the image deficit in terms of safety and hygiene. He asked the industry to work collectively to overcome the negative perception about the country. 

Talking on the topic of Sustainable Tourism which was the theme of the Annual Summit, Dipak Haksar, Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality, and Chief Executive of ITC Hotels said that India trails 116 among 157 countries on the Global Sustainability Index and collective effort is required to improve upon that. He said that there are countries like Slovenia, Peru, Bhutan, etc. which have attained benchmarks in terms of sustainable development and we have lot to learn from those small countries.

 He said that Tourism sector is heralded as one of the three super sectors along with IT and Telecommunication to drive global economic growth in the 21st century. He said that the pent-up demand to see and experience people and cultures beyond the borders is growing by leaps and bounds globally. However, if not managed properly international tourism can have disastrous impact on the fragile environment, and the local community dependent on that. He said that for tourism to sustain in the longer term, the industry has to practice the principles of sustainable and responsible tourism in its letter and spirit.
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