New Delhi: Hospitality is the strength of the Indian tourism industry and it needs to be further strengthened by providing quality education, according to Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma.
"The strength of Indian tourism industry is its hospitality. Foreign tourists return impressed with it. We have already started various initiatives for strengthening this area of the tourism sector," Sharma said here today while presenting the National Awards for excellence in hospitality education for the year 2012-13.
"Another impetus needed for the hospitality industry is quality education in the area," he added.
Sharma, who hails from Rajasthan, said he was impressed by the rich hospitality culture of the country even before he had taken over as the Union tourism minister.
"In Rajasthan, there is a tradition of saying 'Jeemo Sa' before food is served. In fact, there is a different style of serving meals to guests in our country. I have seen how foreigners return in awe of it," he said.
Lauding the award winners, Sharma called them "culture ambassadors" who will take forward the legacy of Indian hospitality.
At the function, four different sets of awards were handed out, including those for national toppers in different hospitality courses offered by the National Council of Hotel Management and for best teachers.
The third category for the awards was for best institutes. While the Indian Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Pusa, bagged the award for best all-round performance and also for best academic performance, IHM, Srinagar, was awarded for the best all-round performance in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir.
A special award was presented to the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Hotel Jaipur Ashok for their contribution towards initiatives under the Hunar Se Rozgar Tak programme and skill development in the hospitality sector.