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Chairing the first meeting of National Steering Committee for new plan schemes of Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) and Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits yesterday in New Delhi, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Culture and Tourism and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India, emphasised the need for inter-ministerial cooperation and coordination to create proper synergy for the success of the schemes. Representatives of ministries like Railways, Water Resources, Rural Development, Urban Development, Power, Transport and Highways, and Culture attended the meeting, as per a PIB release.

Dr Sharma said that there is need to promote Rural Tourism since even urban India is not familiar with the rural life. Apart from this, he mentioned that India has rich resources like rivers that can be beneficial for developing Cruise Tourism, which is nonexistent in the country at present. Stakeholders gave details of some of the projects to promote tourism being implemented by them and how they can be dovetailed with PRASAD as well as scheme of Development of Tourist Circuits.

Suggesting the need for speedy implementation of PRASAD and Development of Integrated Circuits, Dr Sharma said that there should be no delay in implementing these portions of the scheme, which are within the ambit of the Central government. He also urged the officials to launch within a week the projects already identified and in which a substantial ground work has already been done.

The representatives of the various ministries assured that they would send their proposals as discussed in the meeting in writing to the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. According to them, there is not only need to focus on infrastructure, but also on soft skills like training of guides and generating livelihood and employment among local communities.

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