Vice President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu presented the National Tourism Awards 2017-18 on World Tourism Day in New Delhi today. A total of 76 Awards under various categories were presented. The Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture (IC) Shri Prahlad Singh Patel;Secretary-General of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili; Tourism Minister of Paraguay Ms. Sofia Montiel De Afara; Tourism Secretary Shri Yogendra Tripathi; DG Tourism Smt. Meenakshi Sharma, senior officers of Ministry of tourism and 82 international delegates were among those present on the occasion.Speaking on the occasion, the Vice President Shri M Venkaiah Naidu urged all stake holders of the tourism industry to be especially mindful of their ecological foot print and called for more responsible and sustainable tourism practices. He further urged the people, especially the youth to visit at least 15 tourist destinations within India by 2022 to give boost to domestic tourism, as per the suggestion made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Shri Naidu urged students to undertake ‘Bharat Darshan’ to learn about various facets of India’s culture, heritage, languages and cuisine and enhance their understanding of the unique cultural mosaic of the country. The Vice President also underscored India’s tremendous potential in the field of medical tourism and said that India must leverage its ancient practices of healing such as Ayurveda and Yoga to attract more tourists who seek holistic wellness.Union Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (IC) expressed his happiness at India being selected as the host country for celebration of World Tourism Day 2019 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).He congratulated all the awardees and said that we believe in ‘AtithiDevo Bhava’and that is why our tourists are very important for us. He added thatthe Indian government is continuously taking tourist friendly decisions like reduction of E-touristvisa fees, making available an extended e-tourist visa, reduction in GST on hotel tariffs being some of the recent important ones which will go a long way in giving boost to tourism in the country.The Union Minister said that tourism sector is arevenue generating sector.
But apart from revenue, we also want to change the perception. He added that in the last five years India has improved itspositiontremendously in world travel and competitiveness index from 65 in 2013 to 34 in 2019. The credit for it goes to the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who has proudly presented India at international levels as a brand ambassador of the country.Later briefing the media, Tourism Minister Shri Prahlad Singh Patel & Secretary General UNWTO Mr. ZurabPololikashviliannounced that the Online Academy of UNWTO will make available tourism related courses in Hindi also on their Academy portal. The Union Minister thanked the UNWTO for India in in its endeavours to promote tourism. The Tourism Minister further announced that from next year onwards there will be a new special category in Tourism Awards for persons demonstrating extraordinary actions like saving the life of a tourist in life threatening situation etc.Mr. ZurabPololikashvili said that India is a rapidly growing economy and is also making the desired reforms, all of which offers a lot of opportunities for the tourist sector. It is for this reason there is a need to educate and train more people quickly and UNWTO is happy to collaborate with India for tourism related opportunities. The Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture (IC) Shri Prahlad Singh Patel and Tourism Minister of Paraguay Ms. Sofia Montiel De Afara also signed a Tourism Cooperation Agreement after the event.On this occasion,a workshop on ‘ Tourism Jobs of the Future’ was also organized by UNWTO in collaboration with its affiliate member in India, Outlook Responsible Tourism Initiative. The workshop was held to provide a platform for tourism MSMEs and social entrepreneurs in India to explore how to accommodate in the future tourism trends, scale up their activities and tourism practices and create more job opportunities in their communities.A Panel discussion was held on ‘Maximizing Tourism’s potential to create more and better Jobs’ in addition to a presentation ‘The Future is Now-The UNWTO Online Academy’ by UNWTO.The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India annually presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. These awards are presented to State Governments / Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators, tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organizations in recognition of their performance in their respective fields. The National Tourism Awards have, over the years emerged as a prestigious recognition of achievements in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.