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Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 09:00 Hrs  [IST]

FICCI recommends 13-point action agenda focusing on enhancing Indian tourism sector ahead of Commonwealth Games 2010

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) recently recommended a 13-point action agenda which focuses on enhancing the Indian tourism sector ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010. FICCI’s tourism agenda focuses on tourist’s security, confidence building measures, training of personnel, up gradation of infrastructure, rationalisation of taxes and easy availability of visa. According to a UNI report, FICCI has asked concerned authorities to market India as a safe destination, offering quantum security to tourists.

FICCI suggested confidence building measures through one to one meeting between sellers and buyers of Indian tourism products. The visitors should be reassured and catered to with increased visibility of the attractions spread across the country. It also advised the incorporation of an active tourist police by state governments to offer gratifying and safe experience to tourists along with the need to train personnel and stop untrained artists, taxi drivers working as tour guides. The tour guides must have proper training, good language and a badge to recognise them as approved tour guides. They must be groomed to have a helping mentality. Another measure in order to enhance the numbers of foreign tourists, it recommended the need to take foreign buyers on a reassurance trip to India and make them savour the onsite charm and magic of Incredible India along with targeting short haul distances with economical innovative packages, projecting the country as a value for money destination.
However, FICCI also strongly advocated investing in tourism infrastructure, to identify hotel sites to be given on long-term leasehold basis and develop guidelines to ease land prices so that more hotel rooms are available in the country, especially in the budget category. It has also recommended 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in developing tourism infrastructure in India which will give a major boost to this sector. Figures revealed that on a national level there is a shortage of 1, 00,000 rooms, Delhi needs 30,000 rooms to cope up for the Commonwealth Games 2010. There are 90,000 approved rooms in India; whereas Beijing alone has 80,000 rooms. Civic amenities should be upgraded through the PPP model and the maintenance of monuments should be improved. It further suggested the Ministry of Urban Development to identify at least two model cities (tourist centres) and have a pilot scheme, which can be synergised with Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Public-Private-Partnership, tangible and intangible, needs to be given further boost as a driving force in tourism.

Modernisation and up gradation of airport infrastructure is also one of the key areas to give a boost to the sector. Rationalisation of Direct and Indirect taxes with respect to tourism: Road Taxes on tourist vehicles, Luxury Tax on hotels, VAT on food and beverages and Sales Tax on ATF are particular points of concern. According to FICCI firming up a VISA strategy to facilitate tourist inflow to India is of utmost importance. There is a need to look at issuance of Electronic Visas, Visa Free Entry for target countries. Citing examples, FICCI said that nationals from more than 170 countries and territories can visit Hong Kong without visa between seven and 180 days. Apart from that, it has also advocated introduction of APIS (Advance Passenger Information System), Long Term Visa, and Tourist Visa for conference delegates. One destination in each pro-active state should be developed as a model. Finally the industry body is also of the opinion that an editors group comprising of the tourism and travel writers should be involved with the National Tourism Advisory Council (NTAC) so as to enhance the image of the country as a tourist destination.
 
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