Headlines India Reporter met The Minister of Travel & Tourism Ms Ambika Soni and had long discussions on Travel & Tourism Industry in India and the role of Private players in the industry.
Reporter : What do you think are the future prospects of tourist influx in India?
Ambika Soni:I have been directly involved with these issues for three and half years and I feel that looking at the statistical figures of tourists coming to India, the rate is going up and there is great potential as well. But as a government and as a country, I must say that we have much bigger role in the development of infrastructure which is the most important thing. If we do not have hotel rooms where will the tourist stay? We need budget as well as clean accommodation. Along with that better connectivity is required. New airports are coming up. Railways have increased the services. Road transport is better. National highways are being constructed. Concessions in taxes have been implemented for development of infrastructure. Developments are taking place but the inbound tourism will grow simultaneously only with the improvement in infrastructure.
Reporter: What has been the governments support to the private players in the tourism industry in India?
Ambika Soni:Ministry at the Centre acts as a facilitator. We have a small a budget of 1000 crore for this year and almost half of this budget is scheduled for the infrastructural support to the states. Whatever finances any state wants for the development of their infrastructure of tourism, we provide them on the priority basis. Now the Ministry has proposed for tax holiday for hotel business for those who would be investing in rural and hinterlands. As I told you, there is unprecedented requirement of infrastructural development in the country in the prospective of untapped tourism avenues and for that much bigger role for private players is called for.
Reporter: How can the private players in India help in promoting tourism?
We, as a Union Ministry, are developing new products for tourism. We can not call tourists again and again to visit the Taj Mahal. We want to keep the cycle of tourism going because even one lifetime is not enough to know India. So we are maneuvering rural tourism, tribal, food, medical, shopping, tea garden and many other such types of tourism. We are developing adventure and sports tourism like rafting and mountain climbing, wild life and eco-tourism.