Interview: Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, the Government of India
Yogendra Tripathi was recently named as Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India. We asked him firstly how international tourism is progressing in India, and how he could describe the nation’s current key performance indicators.
Tourism in India is certainly very promising with an encouraging growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) to India in the recent years. Foreign Tourist Arrivals in the year 2017 were 10.04 million, a growth of 14 % over 2016. Foreign Exchange Earning through tourism was €24.04bn, a growth of 19.1% over 2016. India aims to continue with this growth rate in foreign tourist arrivals in the coming years through a multi-pronged approach, including proactive marketing strategies in partnership with the tourism stakeholders in the India’s tourism and hospitality industry. India is also looking at promoting in short haul markets in a big way to maintain the high growth rates of recent past.
Standards have recently been drawn up in India for B&B and Homestay establishments. What impact do you feel this will have on tourism growth?
There is a growing trend of more and more travellers seeking to embark on experiential tourism and preferring to be a part of something unique. Tourists want their experiences to be completely different, want to understand and be a part of the culture and heritage of the destination they seek to discover.
A total of 17 prominent tourist sites are being developed into iconic tourism destinations
The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India with a view to provide opportunity for foreign tourists to stay with an Indian family to experience Indian customs & tradition and to provide a clean and affordable place for tourists has framed the Common National Standards and Guidelines for Classification of Incredible India Bed & Breakfast Establishments and Incredible India Homestay Establishments. This initiative is going to have a huge impact on growth of tourism to India and will go a long way in supplementing the availability of accommodation across destinations in India.
How is tourism infrastructure being developed, and what’s new in this respect?
Various initiatives underway in the tourism sector aim at providing visitors to “Incredible India” with a world-class experience that differentiates itself as a spiritually enhancing, culturally enriching, physically invigorating and mentally rejuvenating experience. In the last 3 to 4 years, India has committed a sum of nearly €860m under two major schemes of the Ministry of Tourism for development of tourism circuits, preservation and maintenance of monuments, human resource development, Information Technology, etc. In addition, a large sum of money has been invested expanding and modernising our infrastructure in airports and airlines, railways, national highways, hotels and transport, to ensure that visitors to our country have the most memorable time. A total of 17 prominent tourist sites are being developed into iconic tourism destinations by following a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, progress in technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing.
You recently launched a Tourist Facilitator Certification Programme. What is this programme all about?
The Ministry of Tourism is fully aware that the concept of “tourist guide” has changed the world over and the new age tourist facilitators are “story tellers”. Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Tourism has rolled out the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification (IITFC) Programme in New Delhi to enable Indian citizens to develop and enhance the skills associated with tourism, and where one can incorporate knowledge about facilitating tourists visiting the country. The certification programme comprises basic and advanced self-paced courses designed in a manner that the users can learn in their own time, space, path and pace. The basic course, comprising of 7 modules, is aimed at training the facilitators for knowledge, skills and attitude domains.
Successful completion of this programme enables the learner to become a Certified Tourist Facilitator of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. A refresher course is also proposed for those already in the field seeking at an advanced-level course to enhance their skill set. This initiative will also ensure an enriching experience for the tourists, as this initiative will address the issue of a shortage of tourist guides as well as providing competition, which will further ensure the provision of the best tourist facilitators.
How important is ITB Berlin for your tourism organisation?
ITB Berlin, being a very important fair in the world, provides an opportunity for visitors to discover the world under one roof. We are of the view that this five day long travel show is an ideal platform for showcasing myriad tourism products and destinations in India to the global travellers. ITB Berlin enables partners of India’s travel industry to network with their counterparts from other countries and do business. Due to the show’s growing importance, India always ensures that a high-level delegation from the Ministry of Tourism participates at ITB Berlin.
Hall 5.2b / Stands 205, 205a