From launching a new Shatabdi train service between tourist hot spots Agra and Jaipur to expediting facilities like clean toilets, information kiosks and souvenir shops at World Heritage sites and making it easier to get tourist visas are among measures planned to push tourism in India in a major way.
At an inter-ministerial coordination committee meeting for the tourism sector, held on Aug 13 in the Prime Minister's Office, it was decided that all ministries concerned should work for the development of the sector "which is important for employment generation and economic development", a statement said Thursday.
The decisions taken at the meeting include the railways starting the Agra-Jaipur Shatabdi by November this year and the ministry of culture developing essential facilities like tourist facilitation and information centres, souvenir shops and toilet facilities at the 19 World Heritage Sites through an appropriate agency.
The panel emphasized that "basic amenities and high standards of hygiene and cleanliness are essential for enhancing quality of experience that the country offers to visitors".
It also plans to involve state governments and union territory administrations in creating tourist facilitation and infrastructure facilities in all 116 ticketed Archaeological Survey of India monuments.
The ASI is to also introduce computerized ticketing at all the 116 monuments and audio visual guides in 36 monuments.
In order to encourage more foreign tourists to India, "the process of rationalization of visa regimes is to be completed by the home ministry in two weeks". The tourism ministry will work out an action plan for imparting training to immigration staff within four weeks, it said.
Besides, the railway and tourism ministries are to work jointly to upgrade five railway stations - Amritsar, Agra, Rae Bareli, Gaya and Thiruvananthapuram - within two weeks and 19 other stations within three months.
The employment potential of the tourism and hospitality sectors would also be identified and recommendations made for specific training and skill development requirements and an action plan prepared, the statement said.
Tourism-related vocational courses are to be introduced in school syllabus. The meeting was chaired by the principal secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Pulok Chatterji.