The role of Government in tourism development has been redefined from that of a regulator to that of a catalyst. Apart from marketing and promotion, the focus of tourism development plans is now on integrated development of enabling infrastructure through effective partnership with various stake holders. As per the working strategy for the 12th five year plan the Ministry of Tourism has adopted a ˜pro-poor tourism™ approach which could contribute significantly to poverty reduction. This has been stated in the Annual Report of the Ministry of Tourism for the year 2012-13 released here today.
The report says that the Ministry of Tourism has been making sustained efforts to augment the tourism infrastructure across the country. Detailed discussions were held with the State and UT Governments to prioritise projects to be taken up for funding during the year 2012-13 and out of the 54 Mega tourism projects identified, 40 have already been sanctioned till the end of January, 2013. The mega projects are a judicious mix of culture, heritage, spiritual and eco-tourism and aim to give tourists a holistic perspective.
According to the report, more than half of Tourism Ministry™s Plan budget is channelized for funding the development of destinations, circuits, mega projects as also for rural tourism infrastructure projects. The Ministry of Tourism ensured that 10% and 2.5% of its total Annual Plan outlay went to the tourism projects in the North-Eastern region and the tribal areas respectively.
The Annual report says that under the ˜Hunar se Rozgaar™ scheme of the Ministry the addition of more trades/training areas like Drivers, Golf caddies, Stone Mason, Security Guards and Tourist Facilitators etc. has been a significant step to reduce the skill gap effecting the hospitality and tourism sector. During the last financial year, 21,175 persons were trained under this initiative up to January 31, 2013. Innovative approaches are being adopted by the Ministry to augment the training output and to reach newer areas. Such initiatives include the Training of sentenced prisoners at various jails, Training of physically challenged persons (deaf and dumb), Training of Children Home Inmates, and Heritage, Heritage Walk Escorts and Trainings to providers, Nature Guides etc.
To ensure the contribution of tourism in the development of remote and backward areas in the country, 2.5% of total plan outlay of Ministry of Tourism from 2012-13 was earmarked for tribal areas under Tribal Sub Plan (TSP). The mega projects are a judicious mix of culture, heritage, spiritual and eco-tourism and aim to give tourists a holistic perspective.
The scheme of Rural Tourism was started by the Ministry in 2002-03 with the objective of showcasing rural life, are, culture and heritage at rural locations and in villages. Rural tourism projects at 186 villages in 29 states/Union territories have been sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism since the inception of the scheme. 56 of these sites are located in the North-Eastern region.
The Ministry has also decided to bring hospitality education into the mainstream through Government vocational schools, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), polytechnic institutes, Government colleges, Universities and Public Sector Undertakings. The Central assistance will be available to all. The assistance can be utilized for creation of infrastructure necessary for the conduct of courses/training. Under the policy of broad-basing of hospitality education, grants have so far been provided to 31 ITIs, 7 degree colleges, 4 Polytechnics, 26 Schools and 15 Universities to start new hospitality courses.