Tourism Minister promises to bring in more services for tourists

Tough action against touts, setting up tourist facility centres and launching heli-service are some of the priorities underlined by new Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma after assuming charge here on Monday.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 12, 2014, 14:13 PM IST

New Delhi: Tough action against touts, setting up tourist facility centres and launching heli-service are some of the priorities underlined by new Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma after assuming charge here on Monday.

Seeking cooperation and suggestions from all concerned, Sharma promised to take tourism to "a new high".

"There will be tough action against touts who are found harassing tourists coming from outside. It will not be tolerated," said Sharma after taking charge of the Tourism Ministry.

There have been several cases of tourists specially foreigners being fleeced by touts operating at airports and various tourist spots.

Expressing concern over the tout menace, Sharma said "facilitation centres for tourists particularly for overseas visitors will be set up at all international airports and only authorised taxi operators will be allowed to ply at these places".

"There will be people at these centres to receive tourists and cater to their need. We will also put a monitoring mechanism in place," he added.

On cleanliness, he acknowledged the need for a vigourous drive to keep tourism sites clean and sought three months time to change the scenario.

"Just give me three months. All our heritage and tourist sites will be covered under the cleanliness drive and you will see the result," he said.

Sharma, who is also Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said, "We will also be launching heli-services for tourists like the service available at Vaishno Devi for several tourist places to increase connectivity."

According to the plan, Tourism Ministry will launch the helicopter service in Buddhist circuit to begin with. "There is a lot of potential in Buddhist circuit."

"There will be sincere efforts to take the tourism to a new high on the world map. Despite many world class attractions, there are about 70 lakh foreign tourists coming to country which is not enough," he said.

Acknowledging that more and more Indians are visiting abroad, he said "Today our youth is more keen to visit Malayasia, Singapore and Mauritius than Kangra Valley or Manali. We have so much that we can also attract youth from those countries."

Emphasising on health tourism, Sharma, who is also a doctor, said there was tremendous scope in the health sector as the treatment cost is less here.