The government is working to provide visa-on-arrival facility for tourists arriving from European and western countries at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya airports, Union Minister Shripad Naik said today.
The Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture said this at the inauguration of the 17th convention of Tourist Guides Federation of India (TGFI) here.
"The tourism ministry is working towards providing visa-on -arrival facility at Varanasi and Bodh Gaya airports to the tourists coming from European and Western countries," Naik said.
"Our ministry is already in touch with various other ministries for its earliest implementation," he said.
Naik also said tourist guides are "cultural ambassadors" of India and they play a vital role in promotion as well as growth of the tourism sector in the country.
The minister said the tourism ministry will introduce a pension and an insurance facility for the benefit of guides soon, and a proposal by the ministry has been made in this regard.
"Tourist guides make an important contribution in the image building of the country and when these tourists return to their country, they go back with a positive image of India," he said.
"To make guides fluent in a particular language of their choice, the ministry is also willing to introduce special language courses for tourist guides, as fluency in language attracts foreign tourists," the minister said.
He said a special plan was being chalked out for Varanasi city and a significant amount of funds proposed for tourism promotion in the Union budget would be spent on the holy city.
The cleanliness and maintenance of historic ghats of the city will be improved with the participation of corporate sectors, the minister said, adding, maintenance of six ghats of the city have been given to NGO, Sulabh International.
"An additional fund of Rs 70.60 crore would be spent for tourism promotion of the temple town," he said, adding, "the tourism department would spent a fund of Rs 12.5 crore for beautification of 24 railway stations including the Varanasi railway station".
Naik said the tourism sector of the country has achieved a positive growth in recent times and it has an immense potential for creating jobs too.
He said the tourism sector provides "nearly nine per cent of jobs" in the country and helps in reducing poverty and generating revenue to a greater extent.