More and more Yarty News hotels, tourist lodges, wayside inns, restaurants, cafeterias, tourist bungalows, hotels, and motels, etc., are being opened both in public and private sectors. In addition, financial assistance is being extended by the Centre to state governments for adventure sports activities. Tourist transport, and tented accommodation, etc. To consolidate the development of tourism infrastructure, it has been decided to intensively develop a few selected areas/ circuits. Seventeen such areas/circuits have already been identified with the help of the private sector and corporate houses. It has also been decided to take up four-five focus centres as ‘Special Tourism Areas’ in consultation with concerned state governments for integrated development.
Hotel accommodation is an important segment of the tourism industry, with huge potential for employment generation and foreign exchange earnings. To give impetus to this sector, the government provides tax benefits and other incentives to encourage the hotel industry. The industrial policy of the Centre has now placed the hotels and tourism-related activities as a priority industry. Foreign investment and collaboration are now facilitated under the new economic policy. Up to 51% foreign equity is now granted automatically. 100% investment from non-resident Indians is allowed. Now the Department of Tourism has streamlined and simplified the rules regarding the grant of approval to travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators so that their services to tourists are standardized and are more broad-based, for both international and domestic tourists.
Approval, once granted, is valid forever, provided no complaints are received and the necessary documents are submitted annually. With a view to attract more chartered flights to India, a system of granting clearance has been formulated. An air conditioned rake of the Palace on Wheels train, which has been operational in Rajasthan for quite some time now has been very successful and popular. Similar trains are proposed to be operated in few other popular sectors.
A new range of hotels known as Heritage hotels has been introduced to add to the attraction of tourism in India. This class includes hotels opened in palaces, have lies, castles, forts and residences built prior to 1950. As these traditional places represent and reflect the Indian culture of the past, they have been very popular among the tourists. The heritage scheme rightly aims to ensure that such properties and landmarks of our culture and heritage are not lost due to decay and disuse. It also aims at providing additional room capacity for the tourists. So far, fifty properties have been classified in the heritage hotel category, providing a room capacity of over 1500 rooms. Guidelines have also been formulated for conversion of heritage properties into heritage hotels and their approval is at project-planning stage.
With a view to attract more foreign tourists, publicity is undertaken in major tourist generating markets of the world through various tourist offices located in North America, Europe, Australia, West and East Asia. The Department of Tourism of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation have both promotional and organizational functions. They work in close co-operation. There is a network of regional offices abroad and at home for publicity and marketing in the tourist generating markets.
Overseas India has tourist offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, London, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, Stockholm, Milan, Vienna, Kuwait, Bangkok, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney. In addition, tourist promotion offices are based in Dallas, Miami, San Francisco, Washington, Osaka, Melbourne, Dubai and Katmandu. To feed promotional material to these offices, Indian Embassies, Air India and the Department of Tourism produce tourist publicity literature in different languages. In order to cater to the domestic tourism, literature in Hindi is also produced. Tourist offices maintain film and photo libraries on subjects of tourist interest.
According to recent expert studies and research, the tourism industry is expected to give employment to 338 million people by the year 2005 throughout the world. It currently provides about 300 million jobs, which is more than one-tenth of all jobs worldwide. India seems to be well-poised to take good advantage of the coming boom in tourism and hotel industry but proper environment-protection measures should also be taken to prevent degradation of natural resources and wealth of the country. The experts have also underlined the need for greater awareness of the impact and implications of tourism with the globalization and integration of this industry and economy.