New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the hospitality industry to fully leverage tourism potential to enhance India’s soft power globally. Referring to the Indian concept of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, the Vice President said that our culture, our cuisine and our welcoming attitude towards foreigners can help in attracting more visitors to India.
Paying tributes to Swami Vivekananda on the National Youth Day, the Vice President quoted Swamiji and urged the youth to emulate his qualities and follow the path shown by him.
Speaking at the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Goa, Shri Naidu underlined the importance of the travel and tourism sector to the economy as one of the largest employment generators, employing 87.5 million people, equivalent to 12.75% of employment share in 2018-19. While noting that the sector was the hardest hit by the pandemic, with decline in international arrivals and job losses, the Vice President expressed confidence that the slowdown will be temporary and the hospitality industry will bounce back.
In this regard, the Vice President saw promise in the fact that people will be eager to travel for pleasure once the situation returns to normalcy. He suggested that our robust domestic tourism market could help soften the impact as compared to nations that solely relied on international tourists.
Shri Naidu said that people’s eagerness to ‘travel local’ in the immediate post COVID-19 phase would offer a huge opportunity and advised the industry to tap this growing market well, aided by schemes like Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD.
The Vice President also urged the people to give preference to visiting local tourist destinations- starting with their neighbouring states. Praising the immense natural and cultural beauty of India, Shri Naidu said that youth must visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari, Cellular Jail in Andaman and the Statue of Unity in Gujarat. Referring to the central government programme to promote domestic tourism, he said, “Bahar jaane se pehle, Dekho Apna Desh”.
Further, in order to restart tourism, Shri Naidu said that it was important for the hospitality industry to gain the confidence and trust of the tourists by following all health and safety protocols. In this connection, he referred to the compliance system of the tourism ministry, System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI) for COVID-19 safety and hygiene.
Shri Naidu said that initiatives like SAATHI will assist in the preparedness of hotels to continue operations safely and restore the confidence of guests, besides enhancing the image of a hotel as a responsible hotel.
Interacting with the students, the Vice President said that a positive attitude and a smiling face can go a long way in achieving success in the hospitality sector. He encouraged the students to learn as many languages as possible to thrive well in that sector, without forgetting their mother tongue.
Shri Naidu also shared anecdotes from his personal life, suggesting that an ambition to excel, with an attitude to work hard with discipline are crucial to achieve success. He advised that students must work with ‘pleasure’ and not under ‘pressure’.
The Vice President also noted the importance of Goa as a major global tourist destination. He remarked that apart from the natural beauty of Goa, it offers many things to tourists from art and architecture to fairs and festivals. That is why Goa has a special place in the hearts of international and domestic tourists, he observed.
On this occasion, Shri Naidu praised the Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat initiative organised in the institute showcasing the cultural connection between Goa and Jharkhand. He said that this innovative measure enhances the bonding between the states and strengthens the unity and integrity of India.
Shri Mauvin Godinho, Minister for Protocol, Goa, Smt. Meenakshi Sharma, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, GOI, Shri Gyan Bhushan, Economic Advisor, Ministry of Tourism, Shri J. Ashok Kumar, Chairman, Institute of Hotel Management, Goa were among the dignitaries present during the interactive event.
Following is the full text of the speech:
“I am happy to be here in the state of Goa, which is endowed with a rich culture, heritage, magnificent landscape and pristine natural environment. Known for its beaches, churches, cuisine and friendly people, Goa is a major global tourist destination and offers a unique Indian experience to the visitors.
This beautiful state is also home to breathtaking waterfalls, caves, lush green forests, ancient monuments, rare wildlife and exquisitely carved temples. In fact, Goa offers everything to a traveler– from art and architecture to fairs and festivals. Goa has a special place in the hearts international and domestic tourists.
Today the 12th of January happens to be the birth anniversary of the great son of India, Swami Vivekananda. Born in 1863, he was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. Swami ji had famously said that, “There is only one purpose in the whole of life — education”. And education, according to him, is incomplete without the teaching of aesthetics or fine arts.
I am happy to note that Institutes of Hotel Management such as this one are providing quality education and training to youth in the field of tourism and hospitality. These institutes are not only creating employment opportunities for the youth in the crucial travel and tourism sector, but also empowering them to be flag bearers of Indian culture by promoting the Indian cuisine which has now become so much popular the world over.
Apart from creating highly skilled hospitality professionals, the IHMs can play a significant role in bolstering India’s image as a global soft power through the promotion of Indian cuisine with its variety and richness.
Dear sisters and brothers, this Covid-19 pandemic has further reinforced the need to eat properly cooked, nutritious food to boost our immune system. And as you all are aware, the traditional Indian cuisine is known for its variety, richness and the use of ingredients with medicinal properties. It is prepared in accordance with requirements of each season and each region.
In India, we believe in the concept of ‘Atithii Devo Bhav’—a guest is treated as god. The multitude of tourism and religious destinations in India, our rich cultural heritage, our cuisine and the friendly and welcoming attitude of most Indians towards foreigners will definitely help in attracting more visitors to India. Our hospitality industry must fully leverage India’s tourism potential and institutes like this have an important role in enhancing India’s soft power globally.
The tourism sector contributes significantly to Indian as well as world economy. In pre-COVID scenario, the travel and tourism sector was considered to be the second largest industry in the world in terms of the number of people it employs. With around 330 million jobs worldwide, the industry accounted for one in every 10 jobs. In India too, the travel and tourism sector is one of the largest employment generators, employing 87.5 million through direct and indirect jobs, equivalent to 12.75% of employment share in 2018-19.
But, unfortunately this vibrant sector is among the hardest hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. As per UNWTO estimates, the pandemic has caused 70% decline in international tourism, taking the levels back by 30 years. Goa’s tourism industry is estimated to have experienced job losses in the range of 35%-58%, according to a report published by the state’s Tourism Ministry.
Covid-19 has definitely caused a big setback to global tourism sector. However, I am confident that the slow down caused by the pandemic will be temporary and the tourism and hospitality Industry will bounce back. After remaining confined to their homes for long time periods, people will naturally be eager to travel for pleasure once the situation returns to normalcy. It will naturally provide a huge opportunity to put the Indian tourism industry back on rails and all the stakeholders, including Institutes of Hotel Management, will have a major role in contributing towards the revival of the tourism and hospitality industry.
India has a robust domestic tourism market which could certainly help soften the impact as compared to nations that rely solely on international tourists. Promoting domestic tourism has the attention at the highest level of this Government. Our Prime Minister, Shri Narendrabhai Modi has time and again appealed to fellow citizens to travel and explore the country. In his Independence Day address to the nation in 2019, he had suggested to the citizens in the country to travel to at least 15 destinations by the year 2022.
India has almost 26 million outbound tourists. I assume that in the immediate post Covid-19 phase most of them would prefer to ‘travel local’. This presents a huge opportunity for Indian hospitality industry. India has over 200 beaches, 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites and 668 protected areas which can attract significant tourism activity.
The Government, on its part, is taking measures to boost the domestic tourism with schemes such as Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD. Both the state and central governments must work collaboratively to promote the tourism sector through all possible means including tax incentives and concessions.
Dear sisters and brothers,
I am told that the Ministry of Tourism has created the National Integrated Database of Hospitality Industry (NIDHI) to get a clear picture of the geographical spread of the Hospitality Sector, its size, structure and existing capacity. It will serve as a common repository of data from the Ministry of Tourism, State Departments of Tourism and Industry and enable the Central and State Governments to deliver better support and services including policies and strategies. I am told that 32,624 units have registered under this portal.
As we seek to restart tourism, it is important to build confidence and trust of the tourists. In this connection, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Tourism have already notified COVID-19 Safety and hygiene protocols. The Ministry has put in place a System for Assessment, Awareness and Training in Hospitality Industry (SAATHI) to ensure compliance with COVID 19 Safety and Hygiene guidelines and to ensure safety and health of employees / customers. SAATHI initiative aims to assist in the preparedness of Hotels to continue operations safely and also restore the confidence of guests and enhance the image of the hotel as a responsible hotel. As on date 6,352 accommodation units have registered under SAATHI.
I am told that the Ministry has also been organizing webinars, quiz, pledge, discussions under Dekho Apna Desh initiative to keep connected with the stakeholders and to encourage citizens to travel within the country.
Domestic tourism when developed in a meaningful, sustainable and complementary way to international tourism, offers India an exceptional platform for tourism industry’s growth. This requires a relentless drive to promote and uphold quality at every level.
The cultural connect between Goa and Jharkhand is coming alive in the Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat photo exhibition in the institute today. The initiative, ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ was announced by the Prime Minister on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. This innovative measure enhances the bonding between the states and strengthens the unity and integrity of India.
The main motto of Ék Bharat Sreshta Bharat’ initiative is to showcase the rich heritage, culture, customs and traditions of the paired states and enable people to have a better understanding and appreciate the diversity of the nation.
I congratulate the Institute of Hotel Management, Goa Tourism and Jharkhand Tourism for coming together and organising the photo exhibition. Such exchanges between paired states under EK Bharat Shrestha Bharat are important and will promote people-to-people contacts.
In the end, I would like to congratulate the Institute of Hotel Management, Goa for its endeavour to provide education and impart skills in the field of hospitality.
My best wishes to all the students, faculty, Principal and staff!