E-tourist visas to be raised to cover 150 countries soon

Posted On Apr 20, 2015

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E-tourist visas to be raised to cover 150 countries soon
Govt. to review Tourism Unit Policy of Rajasthan to promote state tourism; 3-day Great Indian Travel Bazaar gets under way in Jaipur

Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan today inaugurated the seventh edition of ‘The Great Indian Travel Bazaar’ which is back in Jaipur after a hiatus of one year. The travel mart targets potential consumers of tourism products from across the globe and India, and is organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan.

Speaking about her long term association with the travel mart, she said that Rajasthan and tourism were synonyms and a mart like the Great Indian Travel Bazaar gives the state a platform to bring together tour operators from around the world along with policy makers and others stakeholders under one roof and an opportunity to promote the city and state’s tourists destinations.

​​Raje also shared with the audience the discovery of old heritage remains while excavation for a metro construction site in the old city of Jaipur. She was of the view that the discovery of the remains may help in increasing the number of tourists visiting the city.

On promoting tourism in Rajasthan, Ms. Raje said that the state government was all set to review the Tourism Unit Policy and had increased the tourism budget exponentially, almost 100 per cent with the expectation that it will reap benefits in future. As the year 2015 was committed to investment, in November 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the ‘Resurgent Resurgent Rajasthan Partnership Summit’ which will be an unprecedented event with strategic conferences, panel discussions, roundtable deliberations, presentations and one-on-one business meetings. It will bring together leading investors from all over the world, senior State government officials and local business community for interactions on investment environment and opportunities in Rajasthan. The summit is bound to promote investments in hotels and encourage new and improved theme based activities for attracting tourists.

The dearth of air connectivity within the state was also an issue that was being looked upon and an internal airline may be started o allow tourists to move faster within the state, said Raje.

Raje also announced the dates of ‘The Great Indian Travel Bazaar’ for the year 2016 as April 17, 18 and 19.

​On the occasion, the Chief Minister released a FICCI- EY Knowledge Paper on 'Unexplored Tourism Destinations of India'.​ ​Highlighting the initiatives of the Central government to promote tourism, Usha Sharma, Additional DG Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that the government has started with e- tourist visa for 44 countries, which would be extended to 150 countries soon. It means that a person of any of these 44 countries can apply for a visa online, make the payment through e-gateway and within three days can get an e-travel authorization.

Speaking about the over exploitation of popular tourist destinations, Ms. Sharma said that there was a need to showcase new products. Hence, the government has started a new scheme ‘Swadesh Darshan’ to promote unexplored destinations. Also, new themes have been introduced to endorse places of tourists’ attraction such as Desert theme, Coastal theme and Himalayan theme.

Underlining the importance of making India a 365-day tourism destination, she said that air connectivity was being improved in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, besides improving the condition of monuments. Ms. Sharma added that safety and security has been another concern for tourists visiting India, hence sensitization programmes have been conducted to assist authorities in handling situations with utmost urgency and prompt action. For assistance of tourists a government helpline was already active and another info line will be launched soon in 13 languages to help guide tourists.

Reminiscing the journey of the travel mart, Dr. Jyotsna Suri, President, FICCI, Chairperson – FICCI Tourism Committee and C&MD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said that in the last eight years GITB had grown exponentially and had hosted almost 1800 foreign tour operators, 50 countries from across the globe made their presence felt at the mart each year and more than 57000 pre-scheduled B2B meetings had been held besides the innumerable on the spot B2Bs. Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that this year the travel mart has exceeded all its preceding records by pre-scheduling more than 10,000 B2B meetings for the coming two days. He added that besides, Gujarat being a partner state, 10 state governments have been active partners of GITB.

​Dipak Deva, Co-Chairman, FICCI Tourism Committee and CEO – Destination Management (India and South Asia), Kuoni Travel Group, moderated the session.

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