Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned about the development of 17 Iconic Tourist Sites into world-class tourist destinations in her Budget Speech.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her budget speech in the first week of July, mentioned about the development of 17 Iconic Tourist Sites into world-class tourist destinations, to boost the tourism influx in India and serve as a model for other tourism sites. This initiative was a clue about the Government’s motive to enhance India’s soft power.
The 17 Iconic sites that will serve the purpose
Among the 17 iconic sites that have been selected to serve as a model for other tourist destinations are the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra, Red Fort, Qutub Minar and Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, Colva in Goa, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Kaziranga in Assam, Kumarakom in Kerala and the Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar.
What is the vision behind this initiative?
Prahlad Patel, the Union Minister of Tourism and Culture told The Indian Express, “The focus of our government is to enhance the overall development of these sites from the tourism point of view. It includes basic amenities like availability of water and toilet facilities in abundance and infrastructural developments like roads, hotels, lodges, connectivity and access”.
This will help us in involving several other ministries from Railways to Civil Aviation while the Tourism Ministry will be the nodal agency. In order to maintain international standards, places in and around the monuments will have components of global accessibility, sustainable and green technology, and upgraded security for tourists.
Who will bear the cost?
Rs 1,378 crore has been allocated to the Tourism Ministry for the development of tourism infrastructure to international standards. In comparison to allocations given to the ministry in 2017-18 (Rs 1,151 crore) and 2018-19 (Rs 1,330 crore), the budget for FY 20 is only marginally high.
What is the role of the Archaeological Survey of India?
According to the sources, the Archaeological Survey of India has yet not received any plan or proposal from the Tourism Ministry related to the aforementioned project of development of 17 iconic sites. Notably, the up-gradation projects at many of these listed tourist sites are already on and at some of the places, such as Red Fort and Qutub Minar, it is even nearing completion.
What about the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme?
Earlier, in late 2017, the Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme opened up many of these monuments for adoption. Notably, a lot of fuss was made when the Red Fort was adopted by the Dalmia Group, and the Qutub Minar and the Ajanta Caves by Yatra Online. Though only 11 MoUs have been signed under this scheme, and it appears that its momentum has slowed down.
Experts believe that tourism is a sector that can help any economy stabilize a bit and as India is a very diverse nation, it adds up to the tourist being attracted easily. But factors like security issues and poor infrastructural and facilities around such sites in India are what woes the International as well as local tourists