Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley has emphasised the role of tourism in creating jobs for the country, calling it a low-hanging fruit.
Emphasising the role central state planning could play in the development of the sector, he said India was well positioned to take greater advantage from the benefits of tourism.
The minister was speaking at a conference of tourism ministers in Delhi.
He also asked the states to reduce taxes on tourism and aviation fuel so that more benefits could be gained from this segment for the country.
Tourism minister Shripad Naik (pictured) said that from next year the conference would be held for two days to enable greater interaction and participation of the states and other stakeholders.
He added that the newly elected prime minister Narendra Modi was giving much focus on tourism, which is part of the five thrust areas.
As part of the plan, skill development and promotion of circuits will be given attention, and niche products and sustainable tourism criteria will also be developed.
In other Indian tourism news, the government has revealed plans to start offering electronic visas for foreign tourists by October.
“The e-visa scheme is expected to be rolled out shortly.
“We are trying to make it operational by October,” tourism minister Sripad Naik said after a national conference of state tourism ministers.
In order to promote cleanliness at tourist sites, the ministry will reward states.
A new category will be instituted from 2016 in its annual National Tourism Awards to recognise the best efforts made by all states ensuring cleanliness at their prominent places of tourist significance.
The states will rewarded on the basis of a Cleanliness Index being evolved by the Ministry.
The Index will rank the cities on the basis of cleanliness at ten popular destinations, one market place and three entry-exit points per city.
The three cleanest destinations and three cleanest cities will be awarded.
World Travel Awards
Indian capital New Delhi will also welcome the World Travel Awards annual Asia & Australasia Gala Ceremony later this year.
The event, scheduled for October 10th, will be hosted by The Oberoi, New Delhi, and will welcome hundreds of industry leaders to the capital for a showcase of tourism talent.