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Make India a year-round destination to attract investments: Rashmi Verma

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Last year’s Incredible India Tourism Investor’s Summit highlighted various state’s new tourism policies and infrastructural needs of the tourism sector. However, no evident projects have come up despite relaxation in reforms and policies. Speaking at the recent FICCI Tourism Investor’s Summit, Rashmi Verma, secretary, ministry of tourism, stated, “Investment is the need of the hour as tourism is the largest emerging sector globally. We have not been able to provide basic amenities and world class infrastructure is missing from the states. But the introduction of new policies for development of coastal areas and better air connectivity opens many doors of opportunities.”

She suggested there’s a need to make India a year-round destination in order to attract investments. “Hotels fear investing in new places as they suffer from a lean period during off seasons. Therefore if we focus on creating India as a year-round destination, investors will have numerous reasons to make necessary developments. The ministry has also moved a cabinet note recommending reduction of infrastructure threshold to INR 50 crore,” Verma added.

Asserting the fact that every state has abundance of products to offer, she mentioned, “The main action lies within the state due to the presence of landbanks. With the right tourism policy and 100 per cent foreign direct investment approved by the centre, every state should be able to to attract new projects.”

The government has been playing a proactive role in promoting India. The new campaigns will see a gateshift in strategy as more weight age will be given to social media apart from video advertisements, she added.

In another address at the summit, Satpal Maharaj, tourism minister, government of Uttarakhand announced that the government plans to develop the state as a winter destination. The proposed plan involves development of ski resorts, activities like rafting, bunjee jumping and other adventure services at some new destinations. Maharaj stated that the government will also develop religious circuits like Vaishnav, Devdas, Nagraj for spiritual tourism apart from highlighting the wellness and natural spots. He said, “Tapovan with its natural hot springs can be an ideal wellness destination while Chopta can offer caravan parking for adventure seekers. We will also promote culinary tourism through specialised tours and village stays.”

The new tourism policy for Uttarakhand will be introduced by the end of next month as per Dr R Meenakshi Sundaram, secretary tourism, Uttarakhand who was also present at the summit. Speaking about the latest development Sundaram mentioned that the government has identified 100 acre land around Tehri Dam to offer for hotels, water activities and other services. The government is already in talks with other departments to offer new landbanks for investments and hopes that Pithorgarh will be part of the second round of bidding under the UDAN scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to enhance connectivity.

Commenting on developing Uttarakhand as winter destination, Sundaram stated, “We are looking for private investors to upgrade the ski resort at Auli and will also offer new winter destinations like Dayara Bugyal and Betuli Dhar to the investors under our new policy.” Maharaj mentioned that the state had already received more than 17 lac tourists and is hopeful that the new tourism policy will give Uttarakhand the needed infrastructural growth to accommodate more tourists.