'Digital media will be utilized fully to promote and spread awareness about tourist destinations and activities,' says Prahlad Singh Patel
Given that the hospitality, travel and tourism industries are facing worst-ever economic crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism is ensuring to take a number of steps to bring back the derailed sectors on track.
In a written reply given in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State (I/c) of Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel has informed that they are taking a host of steps to overcome the crisis. The ministry has planned a detailed strategy which also includes utilisation of technology to the fullest extent for the revival of the sectors.
Following steps have been taken by the ministry to bring the tourism sector back on track:
Detailed operational guidelines for Covid safety and hygiene has been prepared in order to create awareness, training and assessment of compliance of the guidelines. The program is aimed at building the capacity of the hospitality industry particularly small and medium units to restart and grow their business.
Operational recommendations for hotels, restaurants, B&Bs/ Home stays and Tourism Service Providers have been formulated and issued on 08.06.2020 to facilitate smooth resumption of business.
Validity of approval or certifications of hotels and other accommodation units whose project approval / re-approval and classification / re-classification have expired / were likely to expire, has been extended upto 30th September, 2020.
The Ministry has developed an initiative called SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness & Training for Hospitality Industry), for effective implementation of Guidelines/SOPs issued with reference to COVID 19 and beyond for safe operations of Hotels, Restaurants, B&Bs and other units.
Recognition of Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Tourist Transport Operators by the Ministry of Tourism has been extended automatically by six months. Those who have submitted applications for recognition by the Ministry have been given provisional recognition for six months, pending completion of required procedures.
The guidelines for offering financial assistance to stakeholders under the Marketing Development Assistance Scheme are in the process of revision with the objective of enhancing the scope and reach of the Scheme.
The Ministry had launched the Dekho Apna Desh(DAD) initiative in January 2020. DAD is promoted extensively on social media accounts and website of the Ministry and by Domestic India Tourism offices. Under this initiative Ministry carries out series of webinars showcasing the diverse culture, heritage, destinations and tourism products of the country. To create mass awareness, the Ministry has also launched online pledge and Quiz on DAD on MyGov.in platform.
The Ministry has focussed on domestic tourism through a number of innovative steps like promotion of products, festivals, cuisines etc. of the country on its social media handles. It is also organizing activities to promote the concept of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat. It has commissioned aerial photography of several cities during the lock down to promote these destinations. Similarly, the last mile connectivity is being targeted by viability gap funding through RCS-UDAN and discussions with the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) regarding improving road connectivity to important tourist destinations.
The ministry has also come up with a detailed strategy to utilize technology to the fullest extent to overcome the setback created by the pandemic.
Incredible India digital platform, in collaboration with Google, features a variety of 360 degree walk-throughs and stories for prominent tourist attractions across the country. The content is provisioned on major tourist destination pages within the Incredible India website. These embedded walk-throughs provide an engaging experience to the viewer by providing them with immersive 360 degree photos. 360 degree walk-throughs have also been provisioned for prominent World Heritage Sites in India.
Digital media will be utilized fully to promote and spread awareness about the tourist destinations and activities and involve people to prepare them for their visits when the situation becomes normal. Incredible India Web Portal and Mobile App is further being enriched with content and tourist friendly features offering a high degree of personalization.
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator (IITF) Certification Programme – a digital initiative that aims at creating an Online learning platform with the objective of creating a pool of well trained and professional Tourist Facilitators across the country. This will help in creation of employment at the local level and even in the remote areas of the country having tourism potential.