DELHI: Sustaining growth momentum in foreign tourists arrivals despite demonetisation and push for adventure tourism were some of the highlights of Tourism Ministry in the year gone by which also saw a controversy over Aamir Khan’s exit as the face of Incredible India campaign.
During the year, the Ministry also failed to roll out the much-awaited Tourism Policy despite several assurances, reports PTI.
The year began with the controversy over Khan’s exit from Incredible India campaign over his perceived intolerance remark though the government maintained its contract with the creative agency which had hired the actor for the campaign had expired.
There was speculation that the new face of the tourism may be either Amitabh Bachchan or Priyanka Chopra but the year ended with no official announcement in this regard.
It was otherwise a good year for the ministry with 78.53 lakh overseas travellers arriving in India during the January-November period, registering a growth of whopping 10.4 per cent as compared to 2015’s corresponding period figure of 71.14 lakh.
India attracted 8.91 lakh foreign tourists in November, registering a growth of 9.3 per cent over 8.16 lakh in November 2015, negating fears of adverse impact on the sector due to the withdrawal of high currency notes, a decision which caught people in the industry by surprise.
Foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) from tourism sector rose by 14.7 per cent to Rs 1,38,845 crore during January-November as compared to Rs 1,21,041 crore in the corresponding period in 2015.
To give a push to adventure tourism, the Ministry also set up a task force for resolving issues related to development and promotion of adventure tourism in the country.
One of the major initiatives of the ministry in 2016 was the launch of round-the-clock Incredible India helpline in 12 languages, including Hindi and English.
The Ministry also launched ‘Swachh Paryatan App’ for 25 ‘Adarsh Smarak Monuments’ protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) wherein travellers can lodge their complaints about uncleanliness in and around the identified monuments by uploading photos with remarks.
During the year, the ministry approved 29 projects worth Rs 2,497.29 crore for Swadesh Darshan scheme under which 13 circuits, including North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit, which have been identified for development.
The year also saw a three-day investors’ meet in which over 1,800 delegates participated and over 85 MoUs were signed, aggregating close to Rs 15,000 crore investment in tourism sector.
The Ministry also organised the fifth edition of the International Buddhist Conclave in which over 250 delegates from around 39 countries participated.
India signed MoUs with Maldives, Qatar, South Africa and Kyrgyz for strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism.