Odisha Tourism’s key initiatives sets the stage for Centre-state and interstate cooperation at National Tourism Conference

Tourism Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel assured that Odisha shall be included in the list of Iconic Sites

Odisha Tourism, Minstry of Tourism, National Tourism Conference, Konark

The recently concluded National Tourism Conference at Odisha Tourism’s iconic Marine Drive Eco Retreat, Konark brought about key deliberations, strategic decisions and a host of opportunities to boost tourism in the state and country at large. The two-day conference touched upon  every single aspect related to tourism and also brought about three engaging sessions on Tourism Promotion, Responsible Tourism Practices and Tourism Circuit Development  which converged into a set of concrete decisions for furthering Centre-state and interstate cooperation in tourism.

Key considerations of the discussions were in the areas of:

• Maximising E-Governance to refine entry level processes for inbound tourists
• Boosting last mile connectivity to tourist destinations
• A paradigm shift in heritage conservation to refine heritage tourism
• Improvement on the parameters of tourist safety, hygiene, hospitality attitudes and customer service
• Boosting value adding experiential tourism and business tourism
• Reforming regulatory and taxation practices impacting transport to enable multi-state tourism
• Boosting air transit infrastructure and services through operationalisation of airstrips and helipads
• Development of thematic interstate circuits
• Reforming and fast-tracking processes to regulate tourism development, especially environmental clearances
• Adoption of best practices in community ownership and participation for expanding responsible tourism
• Recycling and energy conservation for sustainable hospitality

Vishal Dev, Commissioner-cum-secretary for Tourism, Government of Odisha, summarised the conference proceedings and key takeaways. He also announced that the Governments of Odisha and Gujarat will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding for joint development of tourism circuits and mutual promotion and called upon a more participative larger framework for interstate cooperation in tourism development. Dev, on behalf of Government of Odisha, also recommended that the National Tourism Conferences be hosted by states in rotation in order to diversify its perspectives and enrich its inclusiveness and participation.

ADG Tourism, Govt. of India, Rupinder Brar informed that as per World Travel & Tourism Council, India ranks 11th globally and second in Asia in terms of fastest growing tourism destinations. India is the second most talked about destination. She informed the participants of the intensifying cooperation between India and other countries for boosting inbound tourism. “While we are 34th in the Global Tourism Competitiveness Index and have scored greatly in price competitiveness. But are acutely lagging in openness to foreign tourists, ICT readiness and tourism service and facility quality. Our cooperative frameworks must collectively work on these critical parameters.”

Brar assured that Government of India shall actively consider liberalising e-visa pricing as and when feasible. She called upon states to use the platforms of Bharat Parv and Paryatan Parv for showcasing the best of their destinations. Incredible India certification programme for service providers especially guides has been designed based on global best practices. Brar called on states to enrol greater numbers of guides for the certification programme. India Tourism’s digital initiative is being continuously upgraded and Brar called on states to share more content for destination marketing.

JP Panigrahi, Hon’ble MoS Tourism (IC), Govt. of Odisha expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the Conference and called on the Union Government to build cooperative zonal frameworks for tourism development. “I can say with conviction that this Conference has indeed heralded a strategic partnership through which we can further enhance the incredibility of India by steadily revealing the best of its secrets. I have great hopes for a strategic alliance of states, especially in the Eastern and Northeast Region for deliberating and jointly advocating multimodal connectivity and long duration packages offering diverse experiences. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha Shri. Naveen Patnaik has, in his visionary style, spearheaded the 5T framework for governance reform in our Government – Teamwork, Technology, Transparency and Timeliness for Transformation. I believe we can optimise teamwork, technology and timeliness of our strategic partnership.” Panigrahi, also requested Hon’ble Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel to include Odisha’s destinations, especially Konark, in the Iconic Destinations list.

Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Govt. of India, Prahlad Singh  Patel endorsed the proposal to organise Tourism Ministers’ conferences semi-annually. “We wholeheartedly agreed to participate when Govt. of Odisha took this initiative. All stakeholders including governments and private sector players must put our best foot forward in cooperation.” He reiterated Hon’ble PM Modi’s emphasis in every address of his, and called upon citizens of the country to heed the PM’s call to citizens for touring 15 Indian destinations outside their home state and take ownership to promote these destinations through modern digital media. Patel proposed an initiative that the Government of India would completely sponsor the tour of a circuit to any person who tours 15 destinations a year and promotes each. Besides, he said that e-Visa facility rolled out by the Government of India has seen a 43 per cent growth within  six months of its initiation. Patel  also assured the state that Odisha shall be included in the list of Iconic Sites, and expressed agreement with the state that Konark must be in the list.

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