26 Sep :Following is the text of Ministry of Tourism and Culture Smt. Ambika Soni’s speech at the Convention of the Indian Tourist Transporters Association (ITTA) at Ashok Hotel, New Delhi.
“I am happy to be here today for the Annual Convention of the Indian Tourist Transporters Association. I accepted to participate in this important Convention because we in the Ministry realize how crucial a good transport network is for the growth of tourism. On the eve of the World Tourism Day on 27th September i.e. tomorrow, I, on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism, would like to express my deep appreciation and felicitation to Indian Tourist Transport Association for being an active partner in the growth of tourism in the country.
You all are aware that only last week we held Pacific Asia Travel Mart in Hyderabad successfully. This event was a reflection of the acknowledgement of the world community of the growing importance of Incredible India. This success is not that of only Ministry of Tourism but of the entire tourism industry of which Tourist Transport Associations like yours is an enduring part.
When we in the Ministry of Tourism talk about inclusive growth through tourism we are also thinking about those people who are involved in the transport sector. This sector creates multiple jobs such as drivers, cleaners, guides, etc. which are so vital for sustaining tourism industry. It is these people who are the real ambassadors of tourism. Their positive and pleasant attitudes create welcoming environment for tourists which in turn encourages repeat visitors to India.
I recall my interaction with your Association when you all met me last year. We discussed several issues of concern to you especially rationalization of state taxes on tourist vehicles. My Ministry had taken up this matter with various state governments stating that differential taxation was hurting tourism as they add to costs and make tourism expensive. The States must take a long-term view of earning greater revenue by generating volumes rather than be short-sighted. Another issue that my Ministry has taken up through the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways was regarding allocation of separate registration series carrying alphabets “TV” on all tourist vehicles. We have recommended levying a quarterly or annual tax so that tourist vehicles can move seamlessly under a Single Window Permit System. We all need to work together on these matters with the State Governments.
The 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games is another big opportunity for the transport industry. Today’s theme – Motoring Commonwealth Games is extremely pertinent in this context. Your Association as a service provider should take up this challenge to provide quality services during the Games. Learn from the experiences of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the Beijing Olympics where the services they provided to visitors during those days were widely said to be of top quality and seamless. Likewise we should set high benchmarks for the Games because these events provide lasting impressions on people. I am sure your Association is already discussing these issues with the Delhi Government. Dr. Walia and Shri Haroon Yusuf who are representing the Delhi Government here today, I am confident, are looking into these issues.
The landscape of many of our metropolitan cities is fast changing. For example, look at our own city ‘Delhi’ which has changed so much in the last few years and still changing. The growth of automobile industry has put enormous pressure on our towns and cities especially traffic congestions and clogging parking spaces. In my view, the ongoing modernization of airports, railway stations and roads should address these issues. The Urban Development Ministry is looking at these issues in a wholistic manner. Your inputs would be extremely valuable to JNNURM Mission while planning urban infrastructure. Similarly at the 22 mega tourism destinations where we are building world class infrastructure, we shall give due consideration to your requests.
Safety and security of tourists is very important for the industry. I have spoken about this on many occasions and I am not tired of saying this again. Let me reiterate ‘please take care of your tourists as if they are your guests in the true spirit of Atithi Devo Bhava’. Incidents of harassment have undermined the tourism industry in the recent past. It is our collective responsibility to ensure the safety and security of tourists. A good agency will invest on the security of his client as much as in the maintenance of the vehicles he uses. I wish to also underline here the importance of good communication skills of the drivers, cleaners and guides. They need to be trained constantly. Ministry of Tourism has been organizing courses for the benefit of this particular group as part of our sensitization campaign ‘Atithi Devo Bava’. I am happy to know that your Association is partnering with the Ministry in imparting these courses.
I wish the Indian Tourist Transporters Association all the success in their endeavour to achieving excellence through higher benchmarks and be a partner in the tourism growth”.