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29 Aug, 2019

Indian Tourism Minister: We Need to Change the Perception of India

Editor’s Note: India’s image has undergone some critical changes in recent years. Until the 1980s, it was seen as a poverty-stricken, disease-ridden country populated by snake-charmers. Then it became a tech and IT giant. Then it suffered from a safety and security deficit image, mainly related to attacks on women. Today, it is seen as a country controlled by anti-Muslim Hindutva extremists, with lynch mobs, an increasingly pliant media/judiciary and fading secular/democratic ideals. In this official media release, the Indian Tourism Minister is quoted as instructing the State Tourism Ministers to understand “how foreign tourists perceive India.” The Indian tourism industry should welcome his comments and demand some robust debate on the broader implications of this drift towards a “Modictatorship”, with five years still to go.

Full text of the Ministry of Tourism media release (unedited)

New Delhi, 20 August 2019, Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Tourism – The one-day National Conference of Tourism Ministers concluded successfully in New Delhi today. Organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism, it was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Tourism & Culture (Independent Charge), Shri Prahlad Singh Patel. The conference was attended by State Tourism Ministers of 19 States, Secretaries of Tourism and senior officials from the States and Union Territories (UTs) who deliberated on various issues related to the development and promotion of Tourism.

Speaking on the occasion, the Tourism Minister urged for better coordination between Centre and States to increase number of tourists in India. Highlighting the importance of perception, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel said that we need to change the perception of India in the mind of foreign tourists which will yield us good results for promotion of tourism. He asked the States to organize surveys in their respective States to understand how the foreign tourists perceive India and should work towards removing negative impressions, if any. The Minister stated that all of us together have to make concerted efforts to realise the Prime Minister’s dream of doubling the tourists, both foreign and domestic over the next five years.

The Tourism Minister launched the Hindi version of the new Incredible India portal at the conference today. He announced that the Arabic, Chinese and Spanish versions of the new Incredible India website will be launched next month. The new Incredible India website was launched on 14th June last year. Since its launch, the website has attracted 85,84,928 total visitors including 65,31,722 Unique Visitors as on 31st July, 2019.

Addressing the participants, Shri Patel also urged all the Sates and UTs to follow the norms of UNESCO while making proposals for Heritage site of their sites with the help of ASI. The Minister said that we have great potential in our natural sites and we should focus on adventure tourism to attract more tourists in this sector. He also said that recently, in order to promote night tourism, the Culture Ministry has decided to open 10 historical monuments till 9 PM for common visitors across the country. He also urged all the States and UTs to open their important monuments till late night for visitors.

The Tourism Minister launched the Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification (IITFC) portal during the conference. The Incredible India Tourist Facilitator Certification (IITFC) Programme is a digital initiative of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for the citizens of India to become a part of the booming Tourism Industry. It is an online programme where one can learn about tourism at their own time, space, path and pace. The successful completion of this programme would enable the learner to become a Certified Tourist Facilitator of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.


The Tourism Minister also handed over three new Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) and five new Letters of Intent (LoIs) to the prospective Monument Mitras at the conference today.

The Conference provided a platform for the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to apprise the States / UTs about new initiatives taken and those in the pipeline, to get valuable feedback from the States / UTs on the same, to highlight areas where active cooperation of the States / UTs is required and at the same time to learn about the initiatives being taken by the States / UTs for the development of Tourism.

Discussions were held with the States / UTs to get their inputs and feedback on the following subjects:-

1. Developing an all-encompassing One Stop Solution including information on tourism related services through a web based application and a Grievance Redressal Mechanism through Twitter and Tourist-Helpline

2. Adoption of Adventure Tourism and Bed & Breakfast / Homestay Scheme Guidelines by States/UTs

3. Status of projects sanctioned under the Swadesh Darshan & PRASHAD Schemes and implementation of Public Financial Management System (PFMS).

Discussions were followed by Presentations which were made by the State Governments of Kerala and Sikkim showcasing their best practices in the tourism sector.

(Minister of State for Culture & Tourism (I/C), Shri Prahlad Singh Patel with Tourism Ministers of States/UTs at National Conference of Tourism Ministers)