National Tourism Policy to be rolled out soon: top official

The National Tourism Policy, which seeks to encourage domestic tourism and realise the potential of the sector as a major engine for economic growth, is expected to be put in place “soon,” a top government official said. “It (launch of the new policy) is just a matter of time. We have moved ahead to the next appropriate level,” Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi has said. Asked for a time-line, Zutshi only said, “very soon.” The last time such a policy was formulated was in 2002 and the government seeks to replace it with a new policy document. The policy will outline a concrete action plan, besides focussing on employment generation and community participation in tourism development. It also proposes stress on development of tourism in a sustainable manner with the vision of developing and position India as a “must-experience” and “must revisit” destination. Besides including aspects of cleanliness, safety and hospitality of tourists, the policy would emphasis on skill development across all segments ‘ setting up of a dedicated university for tourism and hospitality education, among other initiatives. Foreign tourists arrivals in 2015 stood at 80.16 lakh against 76.79 lakh in 2014, recording a growth of 4.4 per cent. Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism during January-December last year was pegged at Rs 1,26,211 crore with a growth of 2.3 per cent as compared to Rs 1,23,320 crore during January-December 2014.