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1.5 lakh people issued e-Visa in seven months: Panwar

Rishikesh: With India introducing electronic visa for 150 nations and other steps, government is confident that the country to become a popular destination for tourists and investors, an official today said.

Tourism promotion is at the center of Narendra Modi Government’s scheme of things and it has taken a number of steps, including Smart City and Make in India, which reflect this commitment, Tourism secretary Lalit K Panwar said.

“Over 1.5 lakh people from 150 countries including China were issued online electronic travel visas by the Centre in the last seven months which is something never done by any previous government.

“This shows how keen the government is to attract people to India, see things for themselves and invest here. The ambitious Smart City project is also a step in that direction,” Panwar told.

The smart city project will give a multi-dimensional boost to tourism the country linking it with development, livelihood, trade and investment and government also wants people to come to India, see its potential in different sectors and then decide to invest here, he said.

This sector (tourism) is set to occupy the centre stage in the country’s development process and there must be a well planned strategy in place for its scientific and long-term expansion, he maintained.

He further informed that the Union government also has plans to launch a Swadesh Darshan Yojana to boost domestic tourism in the country under which all Himalayan, coastal and desert states besides those through which Ganga river passes will be developed as tourist circuits.

With the Ganga originating in Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand will definitely be part of this ambitious scheme, he said.

On Uttarakhand, the Secretary said “We will promote tourism in Uttarakhand but not at the cost of its fragile Himalayan ecology, Centre is keen promoting water sports activities in Tehri dam reservoir and has sanctioned Rs 50 crore to the state government for the purpose.”

Panwar has also advised Uttarakhand government to implement the Regulation of Travel Trade Act in the state on the lines of 13 other states in the country which have tourism based economies, including Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, where the Act has already been brought into force.

Noting that implementation of the act will streamline tourism in the hill state, he said, the state tourism secretary Umakant Panwar has been asked to work out modalities of implementing the act in Uttarakhand.

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