Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel said in Lok Sabha on Monday that the government is moving in the right direction in the tourism sector and the country's ranking in terms of tourist inflow has gone up in the last five years.
Terming the situation caused by the coronavirus as challenging, he said that the government brought Indian nationals safely from Wuhan in China, and Iran, where no one wanted to go.
This will prove to be a boon for our tourism as people will consider India safe.
The House approved the demands for grants of the ministry, rejecting cut motions moved by some members.
Patel dismissed the allegation of Congress member Vincent Pala that the Ministry of Tourism was not in coordination with other government ministries.
He said that the graph of India in tourism sector has increased continuously since 2014 when the Modi government came for the first time. India was ranked 65th in 2014 in terms of number of tourists, reaching the 34th place in 2019.
Patel said that the government's steps towards Indian tourism are in the right direction. The Centre and the state have to work together and they should not be seen as "competitors".
He said that Prime Minister Modi has made every effort to develop tourism and is the brand ambassador of Indian tourism.
The minister said that several steps have been taken for the development of the tourism sector within 100 days after the Modi government came for the second time last year.
The GST was reduced, visa duration was extended and visa fees were reduced, he pointed out.
Participating in the debate, BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy said there is a need to provide some support to tourism sector which is affected by coronavirus pandemic.
Globally, he said, many countries have provided relief to the sector hit by coronavirus pandemic.
With regard to India, he suggested a GST holiday may be provided.
Besides, he said, the bank should provide moratorium with regard to interest payment on loan taken by firms in the sector.
Initiating debate, Vincent Pala (Cong) said there is a huge potential for growth in the sector.
There is no coordination between Tourism Ministry and other ministries like External Affairs and Civil Aviation which inhibits growth of tourism in the country, he said.
Globally, he said, the tourism sector contributes 11 per cent to the total tax collected while 10 per cent of the GDP is generated by the sector.
He said tourism in the country in recent months has been affected by protests over the amended citizenship law in various parts of the country.