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50 destinations to be developed as "complete package of tourism": Finance Minister

New Delhi: At least 50 destinations will be selected and developed as a complete package of tourism, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced while presenting the Union Budget on Wednesday.

"At least 50 destinations will be selected and developed as a complete package of tourism. These destinations will be selected through challenge mode using an integrated and innovative approach while the focus of development of tourism would be on domestic as well as foreign tourists," the minister told Parliament. The Finance Minister proposed to launch an app in which all the relevant aspects of the tourist destinations would be made available, in addition to aspects such as physical connectivity, virtual connectivity, tourist guides, high standards for food streets and tourists security, to enhance the tourist experience.

To strengthen domestic tourism, the Budget further proposed that sector-specific skilling and entrepreneurship development will be dovetailed to achieve the objectives of the 'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative.

"To encourage tourism in the border villages, tourism infrastructure and amenities will be facilitated under the Vibrant Villages Programme," she said.
Speaking about the various tourism schemes, Sitharaman said "'Dekho Apna Desh' initiative was launched as an appeal by the Prime Minister to the middle class to prefer domestic tourism over international tourism while 'Swadesh Darshan Scheme' was launched for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuit."

The minister also said that Unity Malls will be set up in states to promote and sell the state's own One District, One Product (ODOPs), Geographical Indication (GI) and other handicraft products.

"States would be encouraged to set up such Unity Mall in the capital city or most prominent tourism centre or the financial capital and also provide space for ODOPs and GI products of other states as well," she added.

In her Budget speech, she also underlined the potential of tourism to boost jobs and opportunities for the youth.
"The country offers an immense attraction for domestic as well as foreign tourists. There is a large potential to be tapped into tourism. The sector holds huge opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship for youth in particular. Promotion of tourism will be taken up on mission mode, with the active participation of states, the convergence of government programmes and public-private partnerships," the Finance Minister said while talking about the potential of tourism in India on the second day of the Budget session.

The session which started on Tuesday with the customary speech of the President to both Houses of Parliament will take place in 27 sittings till April 6 with a month-long recess to examine the budget papers.

The 259th Session (Budget) of the Rajya Sabha is likely to be concluded on April 6. In order to enable the Standing Committees to consider the Demands for Grants of Ministries and Departments and prepare their Reports, both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha will adjourn on February 13 to meet again on March 13. (ANI)

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