The Union Minister of State of Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, in a major step at tourist facilitation, today launched E-Ticketing at the Taj Mahal in Agra and Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi. Similarly, in a path breaking initiative, he also launched a 24×7 Incredible India Tourist Helpline along with Special Welcome Cards for foreign tourists arriving at 9 International Airports. At a function held in New Delhi today, Dr. Sharma also inaugurated the Incredible India Calendar 2015 amongst several other initiatives as a part of Good Governance Daycelebrations.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Sharma said that the new initiatives taken today have started the process of re-launching tourism and taking India’s rich cultural heritage to all corners of the world. The Minister said that during the period January- November, 2014 India received a total of 6.8 lakh visitors which is the highest number of visitors received till November in any year during the last decade, also showing a commendable increase of 7.1 percent over the previous year. Similarly, during the January to November period of 2014, the foreign exchange earnings from tourism crossed the mark of 1 lakh crore rupees with a growth of 12.1 percent over the foreign exchange earnings of the same period last year.
The Minister said that 2014 will remain a historic year for tourism industry since the Government implemented the first phase of Tourist Visas on Arrival (TVOAs) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). As a result of this, nearly 16,000 visas were processed since its launch on 27th November, 2014. The Government will develop 5 Tourist circuits around specific themes i.e., Ganga circuit, Krishna circuit, Buddha circuit, North East circuit and Kerala circuit under the Rs 500 cr allocation in the Budget this year, he added.
Highlighting the importance of spiritualism related tourism, the Minister said that the government has formulated two new schemes PRASAD and HRIDAY for pilgrimage rejuvenation and spiritual augmentation as well as heritage city development. He once again emphasized that there will be no compromise on security, cleanliness and hospitality in the areas of tourism and culture. It is the vision of the Government to combat terrorism by Tourism, he added.
The other major initiatives which were launched by the Minister today include Swachh Bharat Swacch Smarak E-Poster, booklet on ‘’Badhte Kadam’’-Hunar Se RozgarTak, Swachh Bharat Swachh Pakwan (HunarZayka), Mega Project Destination Development of Gwalior, Braille Book on Delhi Monuments and Adarsh Smarakin which 25 monuments will be developed as model monuments.