The Planning Commission has advocated the need for leveraging the tourism sector during the 12th Plan (2012-17) to promote inclusive growth and help reduce poverty. This, the approach paper to the 12th Plan said, would help in increasing the benefits of tourism for the poor.
Officials said the paper, approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week, called for a National Tourism Policy that would be an integral part of the 12th Five-Year plan’s overall strategy to bring down poverty.
The paper said trade, hotels, transport and communication sectors would have to grow 11 per cent to help the country achieve a nine per cent average annual gross domestic growth during the 12th Plan.
It said actions needed to reduce poverty through tourism should go well beyond simply promoting different forms of tourism like community, heritage, eco and wellness. Any policy to reduce poverty through tourism should generate three types of benefits — economic, non-cash (like physical, social and cultural improvements) and tangible (participation and involvement) — for the locals.
According to the paper, the officials said, economic benefits should entail creation of employment at local levels, training of locals for employment, expansion of business opportunities for small and micro enterprises — that sell inputs such as food, fuel or building materials, either to business engaged in tourism or directly to tourists — such as tea shops, crafts bazaar, etc.
The paper advocated sharing of incomes generated through donations, equity dividends, etc, with the locals for community development.
On non-cash livelihood, the officials said the approach paper suggested tourism should lead to capacity building in local regions and help in improving access to services like healthcare, security and water supplies.
The paper said implementation of these strategies would involve developing formal and informal links between stakeholders and the government across all levels.
According to the officials, the paper highlighted the need to develop a whole government agenda between departments, states and the Centre to create convergence and synergy across programmes. The paper will be placed before the Cabinet for approval, following which it is expected to be placed before the National Development Council, expected to be held late September.