Union Tourism Minister G. Kishen Reddy on Saturday urged people to travel to tourism destinations while following all the Covid-related protocols.
Addressing a press conference here, Reddy also said that the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 could prove to be a dampener for international tourist footfalls in India.
"The tourism sector, not just in India but across the world, has been affected. Domestic tourism is picking up pace now and people are travelling to destinations in a big number. But today there is a debate about the third wave," Reddy told mediapersons.
"I urge people to follow all the Covid protocols while travelling to tourist destinations. The state governments have also taken their own decisions regarding following the protocols," he said.
Commenting on the immediate future of chartered tourism flights to Goa, which had recently been allowed by the Union Home Ministry, Reddy said that the emergence of Omicron globally could prove to be a dampener.
"We have made a decision and we have met the tour operators from different countries in Delhi. We had opened chartered flights, but because of the new variant, countries have imposed restrictions on tour operators in their countries, therefore a problem has cropped up again," he said.
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that international cruise tourism should be pursued on a mission mode, adding that his Ministry is working with the Union Ministry of Shipping to further the Prime Minister's agenda.
"Cruise tourism is a part of the Sagarmala initiative, and our Shipping Ministry is encouraging it. In the coming days, cruise tourism development will be taken up on a mission mode, as per the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said, adding that officials from his ministry would be meeting with their counterparts in the Shipping Ministry to work out an action plan to start cruise terminals across India's coastline.
Reddy also said that Goa would stand to benefit from the Central government's international cruise terminal initiative.
"If cruise tourism is developed in Goa, the largest amount of benefit will be accrued by the state. Andaman, Visakhapatnam, Chennai -- all these destinations can be connected to Goa. Passenger terminals will be developed in ports and the Tourism Ministry has given the shipping department funds to develop the same," he said.
Reddy also said that Goa would stand to benefit by developing heli-taxis (helicopter taxis), which has worked well as a concept in the Northeastern states.
"In the Northeast, we have developed heli-taxis in many places. It can be done here too. Goa is a tourism destination, it should have helipads... We also do gap funding for helicopter taxis to control the rates," he said.
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