The Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr Mahesh Sharma has congratulated the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley for presenting a balanced, far-sighted and growth-oriented budget. He has also thanked the Finance Minister for giving due importance to the tourism and hospitality sector in the budget. Dr Sharma said that the growth of tourism is important for the overall growth of the economy of India. The revenue from tourism sector can be utilised for the development of the country. Tourism, in India, is a very important source of foreign exchange earnings and has high labour intensity, the Tourism Minister added.
Dr Mahesh Sharma said that the announcement by the Finance Minister to extend Visa on Arrival Facility(VOA) to 150 countries in stages from the current 43, is a big step to promote tourism. This , combined with the latest introduction of Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) will help to achieve very soon the target of increasing the country’s share to international tourism to more than 1% . VOA facility enabled by ETA has already shown remarkable results . the Tourism Minister has said that during the month of January 2015, a total of 25,023 tourist arrived by availing TVoA as compared to 1,903 TVoA during the month of January 2014, registering a growth of 1214.9%. This high growth is due to introduction of ETA enabled TVoA for 43 countries.
In his Budget Speech today, the Finance Minister said that facilities at Cultural World Heritage Sites will be restored. He has stated that the facilities like landscaping restoration, signage and interpretation centres, parking, access for differently abled, amenities for visitors including securities and toilets, illumination and plans for benefiting communities around them would be restored. The Union Finance Minister Shri Jaitley has proposed to provide resources to start work along these lines for the following Heritage Sites:
1. Churches & Convents of Old Goa
2. Hampi, Karnataka
3. Kumbalgarh and other Hill Forts of Rajasthan
4. Rani ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
5. Leh Palace, Ladakh, J&K
6. Varanasi Temple town, UP
7. Jalianwala bagh, Amritsar, Punjab
8. Qutub Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad, Telangana
The five theme based circuits have been given Rs 600 crore in the current budget and Rs 100 crore have been allocated for the PRADSAD scheme. Both these schemes were introduced during the Budget 2014-15. Dr Mahesh Sharma said that the issues of security and cleanliness are two major challenges for the tourism sector. The Minister said that in the current budget, provisions have been made for safety and security, especially allocation of another Rs 1000 crore for Nirbhaya Fund , and there is a large allocation for the Swachh Bharat Mission , which will help boosting the growth of tourism in India.