Smt. Ambika Soni launches `Bed and Breakfast Scheme’

for Ministry of Tourism | Date - 18-10-2006

The Minister of Tourism & Culture, Smt. Ambika Soni today launched the `Incredible India Bed and Breakfast Scheme’ to augment the availability of rooms for tourists. Under the scheme, the house owners can offer up to 5 rooms or 10 beds with good comfortable beds, working space, air-conditioning facilities as well as attached western toilets. The house owner will also be required to provide Indian/Continental breakfast to the guests and display the rates to be charged for rooms as well as breakfast. The interested house owners will have to apply in the prescribed application form to the Regional Director, India Tourism offices and the local offices of India Tourism at other tourist destinations.

The Minister also released promotional films that would highlight niche tourism products such as adventure tourism, cruise tourism and MICE (Meetings International Conferences and Events) tourism. The Minister also addressed a press conference on this occasion. The following is the text of the Minister’s opening remarks:

“The country is facing severe shortage of hotel accommodation, which is becoming more serious in metro cities. This has also resulted in star category hotels becoming very expensive and unaffordable for the tourists.

The shortage of rooms in Delhi is adversely affecting the flow of tourists to Delhi as well as to other destinations. The accommodation constraints in Delhi will have serious implications on the arrangements for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Based on the experience available from Melbourne Commonwealth Games, it is estimated that there will be a requirement of about 40,000-50,000 rooms in the budget category for the tourists visiting Delhi and surrounding areas during the Games. The issue of giving tax benefit, under section 80 IA of Income Tax Act by declaring them as “infrastructure projects” for 3 and 4 star hotels, which are constructed prior to 2010, has been taken up with Ministry of Finance.

It has also been decided to build up required inventory of budget category rooms through recognition of spare rooms available with various house owners in NCR Delhi by classifying these facilities as “Incredible India Bed & Breakfast Establishments”, under ‘Gold’ or ‘Silver’ category. This facility will make rooms available at affordable cost for the common tourists, who wish to visit India and also give them an opportunity to stay with Indian families and experience the Indian culture. This will be a unique opportunity for house owners, especially the house wives, because, once their spare rooms are recognized under B&B Scheme, they will get an opportunity to earn that extra income being at home. Ministry of Tourism proposes to give adequate publicity to these facilities along with providing professional training to these recognized house owners under the Capacity Building Programme.

An integrated publicity campaign is being launched by the Ministry of Tourism to facilitate and motivate house owners to apply under the scheme. The houses, once registered with Ministry of Tourism, will be promoted through e-commerce platform of Incredible India website. This e-commerce platform will provide travel agents, tour operators, airlines, state tourism corporations and most importantly small and medium entrepreneurs like bed and breakfast suppliers, an opportunity to avail of the twin benefits of promotion and publicity through Incredible India platform as well as creation of secure payment gateway for online booking of their respective products.

Ministry of Tourism has launched, during the current year, integrated International Media Campaigns covering Europe, US & Canada, Australia, the Far East and the Asia Pacific region to promote India as a must see destination. This year’s campaign focuses on both the generic and niche areas to convert India into a destination for 365 days a year. Special emphasis is also being laid on marketing India as a MICE destination. The specific themes are: “Generic India”, “Come to India – Walk with the Buddha”, “The Indian Himalayas” and “Indian Monsoon”.

A fresh creative commercial has been launched. In addition, brand personalities like Deepak Chopra, Mark Mobius, Jeev Milkha Singh, Zila Khan and French photographer have been used to promote and market India’s unique products.

The objective behind the campaign is to attract the international traveller by positioning India as a unique destination, as the land of five senses, a journey of the mind and soul. The campaigns, already launched in the leading source markets, are in the print, electronic, internet and outdoor media. A total of Rs. 67 crore is expected to be spent on the international print and electronic campaigns. The focused international campaign is backed by a strong net campaign, which is featured on the leading international sites and portals such as MSN, Yahoo and Google, and also country specific sites in the US, Europe, China, Japan etc. The expenditure on this online campaign will be in the range of Rs. 13 crore.

As regards the domestic market, the objective of the Ministry is to popularize the culture and natural beauty of different regions, pilgrim sites, and new tourism products like Adventure and Rural Tourism. Simultaneously, the aim is to highlight the fact that the coming year is a historic year as it marks 150 years of India’s Freedom Struggle. In keeping with the aim of promoting sustainable and responsible tourism the Ministry is continuing the concept of Social Awareness Campaigns, and one of the campaign themes for this year is Awareness against Garbage & Graffiti on monuments.

Thus, the 10 proposed campaigns in the domestic markets are on the following themes: -

1. Cultural Heritage & World Heritage Sites of India

2. Northeast Region including Sikkim

3. 150 years of India’s Freedom Struggle

4. Social Awareness Campaign against Garbage & Graffiti on monuments

5. Pilgrimage

6. Rural Tourism

7. Yoga & Wellness

8. 2550 years of Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha

9. Jammu & Kashmir

10. Adventure & Wildlife

In the last few months, the Ministry has launched several new initiatives and products like Medical Tourism, Rural Tourism, Cruise Tourism, MICE Tourism etc. With the increased use of Information Technology, the trend is now towards web brochures. Accordingly, the Ministry is launching new CDs on Cruise Tourism, Adventure Sports and MICE Tourism to begin with. The CD on Medical Tourism has already been launched. The CDs are interactive and informative and will be distributed extensively to international tour operators, as promotional tools. They are rich in content and easy to navigate, thus becoming not only user friendly but also interesting sources of information through the use of video clippings.

Adventure tourism activity in our country has reached a high level of participation. The Ministry, therefore, felt a need to launch a set of safety guidelines. These would address issues of not merely the safety of the clients but also the quality of the adventure experience. It will also address the issues of minimizing impacts on the fragile environment in which these activities are generally conducted.

These guidelines cover activities that are land based, air based and water based. In the land section, it is mountaineering and trekking, which comprises a large share of adventure activity taking place in our country. In the air section, we have Hang Gliding, Para Gliding and Bungee Jumping and finally in the water based activities it is Rafting.

An Accreditation Committee is also being established, to monitor adventure tourism activities. This Committee will comprise of the Government and Industry representatives and of National Training Institutions, which will oversee the safety standards and continuously evolve/update guidelines.

Ministry has given a special thrust to improving the quality of tourism infrastructure all over the country. During the Xth Plan period the tourism infrastructure development projects worth Rs.984.81 crore have been sanctioned for 570 tourism projects in all the States for creating a better experience to the tourists. During 2006-07, 79 projects amounting to Rs.108.57 crore have been approved. Special emphasis has been laid on the Buddhist Circuit, Hampi, Mahabalipuram, Attari-Wagah Border and the North East.

With the objective of undertaking intensive development and not spreading the resources thinly, the Ministry has recently revised its existing scheme for assisting States/UTs for development of tourism infrastructure. The quantum of assistance in this scheme has been enhanced to Rs.50 crore for development of an identified tourist circuit from the existing Rs.8 crore and to Rs.25 crore from the existing Rs.5 crore for development of an identified tourist destination. The work for project preparation has begun to develop world class tourism infrastructure for 15 destinations/circuits spread over the length and breadth of the country.

In order to give further impetus to public private partnership in development of infrastructure and in view of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, the Government has launched a revised scheme to promote Large Revenue Generating projects. These projects would be implemented in public private partnership as well as in partnership with other semi-Government agencies. The quantum of assistance for such projects would normally be determined through a competitive bidding process, with maximum assistance limited to Rs.50 crore or 25% of the total project cost or 50% of equity contribution of the private promoter, whichever is the lowest.

Tourism is a multi sectoral activity characterized by a wide range of suppliers i.e. airlines, hotels, connectivity infrastructure and environmental issues, where coordination, monitoring and speedy implementation is of paramount importance. The Investment Commission Report of February 2006 has recommended that tourism be declared as a National Thrust Area with definite national goals with all impediments for growth removed and incentives provided to encourage investment.

The most important issue connected with tourism growth is the issue relating to Visa. This issue was taken up with Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Home Affairs. As an outcome of the same, the Advance Passenger Information System to facilitate security clearances has already been introduced on pilot basis on all Air India flights coming from various locations to Delhi. The issue of long terms visa for 5-10 years to every tourist from the select countries has also been agreed in-principle by both the Ministries.

The Ministry of Tourism has worked out specific proposals, which have been forwarded to the Ministry of Surface Transport for upgradation of roads to world heritage, Buddhist heritage and key tourism sites. 15 key destinations have also been identified for connectivity through 4 laning and upgradation of existing roads.

The Ministry has also requested the Ministry of Railways to look into the possibilities of introducing tourist trains in public private partnership to connect the identified circuits and destinations. The issue of increased air connectivity in the domestic as well as overseas sectors, based on the market assessment, has also been taken up with Civil Aviation Ministry. The improvement of infrastructure for identified ports, to give boost to cruise tourism, is also being planned in coordination with concerned Port Authorities.

Ministry has also revised the guidelines for training of Regional Level Guides to ensure that training and selection of these guides become more competitive and effective. A new category of premier guides has also been introduced, who could cater to the upper segment of foreign tourists as well as the discerning travelers who could be interested in specific subjects”.

(Release ID :21422)

(This is an archive of the press release and has not been edited by our staff.)