Govt. to take spiritual route to spur tourism

A group of tourists at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tamil Nadu.

A group of tourists at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Tamil Nadu.   | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

Focus is also on yoga, Ayurveda, says Alphons

In a bid to spur domestic travel, the government plans to promote religious tourism in the country, said Minister of State for Tourism K.J. Alphons. Plans are also afoot to popularise yoga and Ayurveda among millennials, as part of efforts to reach out to people across the globe and get “millions of more people to India.”

“Our big focus is getting people to see India itself… Bulk of domestic tourism is really religious tourism. According to our estimates, close to 60% of domestic tourism in India is religious-based,” Mr. Alphons said, adding that the government is now investing in creating infrastructure around religious places.

The number of domestic tourist visits in 2017 stood at about 1.8 billion, up about 12% from the over 1.6 billion in the previous year.

The government has already approved two projects — Swadesh Darshan Scheme, wherein infrastructure will be built around places of tourist interest under the umbrella of 15 themes such as Buddhist Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit; and Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive or PRASAD scheme that focusses on development and beautification of identified pilgrimage destinations.

90 projects

The government has approved allocation of about ₹ 7,000 crore for about 90 projects under the two schemes. “Almost all the projects under both schemes will be inaugurated by December this year.”

“We are repositioning what India is. There are two big things that we want to sell — one is yoga and the other is Ayurveda. This is to attract both domestic and foreign tourists,” Mr. Alphons said.

The Tourism Ministry recently launched ‘Yogi of the Racetrack’, a minute-long advertisement on yoga, that received more than 11.5 million hits in a week. “With this ad, we are addressing a completely new group of people. Earlier, it was thought that yoga is just for people over 40 and Ayurveda too is for older people. Now we are addressing the millennials.”

Six more similar advertisements on topics, including Ayurveda, will be released soon. “The whole idea is to storm the world with what the true essence of India is.”

Toursit arrivals

Foreign tourist arrivals in 2017 stood at over 10 million, a growth of 15.6% over 8.8 million such arrivals in 2016. This resulted in foreign exchange earnings of $ 27.6 billion last year, a growth of 20.8% over 2016.

“We don’t want people to just come and see and go. It doesn’t bring any benefit to the local community… Longer stay means hotel rooms will be occupied, tourists would shop, go to restaurants… this helps us get foreign exchange as well as generate more jobs,” Mr. Alphons said.

The Minister said that to boost tourism, the attitude of citizens also need to change. “… the perception is that when you see a foreign tourist, you want to go and take a selfie with them, get unnecessarily close. A whole lot of people don’t like that. They want privacy… let people be, don’t bug them.”

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Printable version | May 19, 2020 2:20:26 AM |

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