The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the hospitality industry to fully leverage tourism potential to enhance India’s soft power globally. Referring to the Indian concept of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, the Vice President said that our culture, our cuisine and our welcoming attitude towards foreigners can help in attracting more visitors to India.
Speaking at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Goa, Shri Naidu underlined the importance of the travel and tourism sector to the economy as one of the largest employment generators, employing 87.5 million people, equivalent to 12.75% of employment share in 2018-19. While noting that the sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic, with decline in international arrivals and job losses, the Vice President expressed confidence that the slowdown will be temporary and the hospitality industry will bounce back.
In this regard, the Vice President saw promise in the fact that people will be eager to travel for pleasure once the situation returns to normalcy. He suggested that our robust domestic tourism market could help soften the impact as compared to nations that solely relied on international tourists.
Shri Naidu said that people’s eagerness to ‘travel local’ in the immediate post COVID-19 phase would offer a huge opportunity and advised the industry to tap this growing market well, aided by schemes like Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD.
Further, in order to restart tourism, Shri Naidu said that it was important for the hospitality industry to gain the confidence and trust of the tourists by following all health and safety protocols. In this connection, he referred to the compliance system of the tourism ministry, System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI) for COVID-19 safety and hygiene.
Shri Naidu said that initiatives like SAATHI will assist in the preparedness of hotels to continue operations safely and restore the confidence of guests, besides enhancing the image of a hotel as a responsible hotel.
The Vice President also noted the importance of Goa as a major global tourist destination. He remarked that apart from the natural beauty of Goa, it offers many things to tourists from art and architecture to fairs and festivals. That is why Goa has a special place in the hearts of international and domestic tourists, he observed.
On this occasion, Shri Naidu praised the Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat initiative organised in the institute showcasing the cultural connection between Goa and Jharkhand. He said that this innovative measure enhances the bonding between the states and strengthens the unity and integrity of India.
Smt. Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, GOI, Shri Gyan Bhushan, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Tourism, GOI, Shri J. Ashok Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Hotel Management, Goa were among the dignitaries present during the interactive event.