Rural Circuit is new tourism focus

The Ministry of Tourism has launched the ‘Swadesh Darshan’ and ‘Prashad’ schemes for the development of tourism related infrastructure and facilities in the country.

Recognizing the potential for the development of rural tourism in the country, the Ministry of Tourism has identified “Rural Circuit” as one of the 15 thematic circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme. The underlying idea is to promote tourism as an important source of employment in the country as it is a labour intensive activity. Ministry of Tourism develops tourism related infrastructure and promotes India as a Tourism destination to increase tourist arrivals, which in turn creates employment opportunities in the country.

The Ministry also promotes the tourism destinations and products including ‘Rural Tourism’. The Ministry does not maintain data with regard to employment generated by implementation of its various schemes. However, as per the 3rd Tourism Satellite Account of India (TSA), the contribution of tourism employment to total employment of the country during 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 was 12.20 per cent, 12.13 per cent, 12.75 per cent respectively.

The Government has formulated special action-plan for the development of tourism in Sri Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituency in Punjab under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme. The Ministry of Tourism under its Swadesh Darshan scheme has sanctioned a project Development of Heritage Circuit: Anandpur Sahib – Fatehgarh Sahib – Chamkaur Sahib – Ferozpur –Amritsar – Khatkar Kalan – Kalanour – Patiala in Punjab for Rs.99.95 crore in the year 2018-19. The execution of project on ground is yet to commence. Submission of project proposals by the State Governments under the above scheme is a continuous process. The projects under the schemes are identified in consultation with the State Governments and Union Territory UT Administrations.

Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 Sites in 12 Clusters for Development as Iconic Tourist Sites. The names of the sites identified for development as Iconic Tourist Sites are — Taj Mahal, Fathepur Sikri. Ajanta, Ellora, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Colva Beach, Amer Fort, Somnath, Dholavira, Khajuraho, Hampi, Mahablipuram, Kaziranga, Kumarakom and Mahabodhi Temple. Ministry of Tourism has launched an Online Learning Management System for creating skilled manpower to work as tourist facilitators. The initiative will enable the youth living in remotest part of the country to skill themselves and facilitate tourists on Pan India basis. Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification currently has 3800+ enrolment across country.

The Minister of State of Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on December 9, 2019, the Swadesh Darshan Guidelines have a provision to create employment through active involvement of local communities. An estimated additional 13.92 million jobs (direct + indirect) were created due to tourism during the years from 2014-15 to 2017-18.  Ministry of Tourism has launched Incredible India Mobile App. The Incredible India Mobile App showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The mobile app has been designed keeping in mind the preferences of the modern traveler and follows the trends and technologies of international standards. The app has been equipped with features to assist the traveller in each phase of their journey to India.

As per the data available, the Ministry of Tourism spent 1687.06 crore and 1986.04 crore during the years 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively under its plan scheme on tourism sector. The Budget Estimate under the plan scheme for the sector during the financial year 2019-20 is 2075.12 crore.  Development and promotion of tourist places is primarily the responsibility of concerned State Government/ UT Administration. However, the Ministry of Tourism promotes India as a holistic destination covering its various tourism destinations and products across different States and Union Territories in the country.