Speaking on the occasion, the Tourism Minister said that India has taken great strides forward in the field of tourism during the last four years of the Government and added that tourism, today, is the cornerstone of the Indian economy, as it is a major source of employment and foreign exchange, and in order to tap the full potential of this sector, industry has to join hands. Congratulating the awardees, K. J. Alphons also shared the concern that the tourism sector needs to improve its hospitality services since it is the hospitality offered which is the distinguishing feature of India and gives it an edge over other countries. He also added that it is the responsibility of every citizen to build the image of the country as safe for anyone to travel.
The Minister also announced that, India will be the host country for official World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO, in 2019. The theme for the World Tourism Day 2018 being “Tourism & Digital Transformation”, the Minister recounted the various digital initiatives taken by the Ministry in harnessing technology for tourism promotion, which include, launch of a new Incredible India website; 24 X7 Chat bot interface on this website; launch of a new website on Buddhism in India and many more initiatives..
K J Alphons also informed the industry that the flood-stricken Kerala is now ready to receive tourists since the hotels and tourist sites are now operational. He also added that the state is rapidly recovering from the disaster and it is now the time for the tourism industry to support the state’s tourism sector.
The Ministry of Tourism annually presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. These awards are being given since the early 1990s and are presented to State Governments / Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organizations, in recognition of their performance in their respective fields, and also to encourage healthy competition with an aim to promote tourism.
The National Tourism Awards have over the years emerged as a prestigious recognition of achievements in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. This year, a total of 77 awards were presented to the tourism industry stakeholders, State Governments, central agencies and individuals.