The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the National Tourism Awards 2013-14 at a function held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on 18th September 2015.
Speaking on the occasion, the President congratulated the award winners and said that “these exceptional individuals and institutions who have been felicitated today have distinguished themselves through their dedication in promoting India as a tourist destination”. He said that broader social contacts between tourists and receiving communities go a long way in enhancing mutual understanding, tolerance, and awareness between peoples. India offers one of the best tourism experiences in the world, he added.
The President said that with the growth of the Indian economy and the increase in disposable income of the people, we may expect tourist inflows to remain on a positive trajectory in the years to come. We must pay focussed attention to the building of a high quality tourism infrastructure in the country. The launch of two initiatives - Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) - aiming at integrated development of circuits and pilgrim centres would go a long way in achieving this objective. He emphasized that the safety mechanisms that we create, the precautions that we put in place must reassure our guests - so that they never have to be apprehensive about their personal safety or that of their belongings.
Highlighting the contribution of tourism to the economy, the Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge), Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the country earned Rs1,23,000 Crore rupees of foreign exchange through tourism last year . It contributes 6.8% to the GDP. Tourism, he said is an ‘Industry of Smiles’ and the Government gives top priority to Swachhta, Suraksha and hospitality as the 3 pillars of tourism promotion in the country. Highlighting the recent steps taken by the Government, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that Welcome Booklet is being distributed at the International Airports, giving important information including DOs and Don’ts to the foreign travellers. Similarly, 24X7 helpline has been set up which is currently functional in Hindi and English and will soon be functional in 12 International languages.
Similarly, started in November last year, e-Tourist Visa facility has been extended to 113 countries in such a short span of time. Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the achievementsmade by the tourism industry could not have been possible without the contribution of the private stakeholders. The work done by the stakeholders has not only generated revenue but also given employment and contributed to women empowerment.
The Secretary , Tourism, Shri Vinod Zutshi congratulated all awardees. He said that the Tourism Awards will go a long way to catalyze & incentivize the tourism sector in India and encourage the stakeholders to give their best performance.
The National Tourism Awards are given in several categories including Comprehensive Development of Tourism, Best Rural Tourism Project, Best Heritage City, Best Hotels, Awards to Inbound Tour Operators and Travel Agents for their outstanding work, awards in the field of publicity/promotion and overseas marketing, use of information technology for tourism among others.
Among the important recipients of awards include the state of Gujarat for the Best State/UT for Comprehensive Tourism Development; Heritage City Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh as the Best Heritage City; Municipal Council of Maheshwar (Distt.Khargone) in Madhya Pradesh for Best Civic Management of a Tourist Destination in B Category. Gujarat has been awarded as the Best Film Promotion Friendly State/Union territory while Deptt of Tourism, Kerala received the award for Most Innovative use of Information technology. “The Great backwaters of Kerala’ by Kerala Tourism has been awarded the Best Tourism Film while the Coffee Table Book “Gujarat’s 50 Golden Destinations’ by Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd got the award of Best Tourism Promotion Publicity material.
M/s Kuoni Travel India Pvt. Ltd, Gurgaon received the first prize for Best Inbound Tour Operators/Travel agents in the category of earning Foreign Exchange of Rs 100 cr or more in a year, M/s Trail Blazer Tours India Pvt was given first prize in the category of earning Foreign Exchange of Rs 50-Rs 100 cr in a year. M/s Eco Mobility and Hospitality Pvt Ltd won the first prize in Category I of Tourist Transport Operator, while M/s Snow Leopard Adventure Pvt Lts, Gurgaon won the prize for Best Adventure Tour Operator.
Representatives of Tourism Departments of States / Union Territories, travel and tour operators, hotels, travel agents, tourist transport operators, and officials of the Ministry of Tourism were present at the awards function today.