By Odisha Story Bureau, New Delhi:
Ministry of Tourism annually presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. These awards are being given since the early 1990s and are presented to State Governments / Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organizations in recognition of their performance in their respective fields and also to encourage healthy competition with an aim to promote tourism. The National Tourism Awards have over the years emerged as a prestigious recognition of achievements in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.
Tourism is a dynamic industry and every year the categories of awards are reviewed with new categories being added to recognize excellence in diverse fields, in accordance with the requirements of changing times. In the year 2010, a new category of Awards was introduced for “Best Civic Management of a Tourist Destination in India”. This award was introduced to encourage eco-friendly practices by various civic bodies in cities / towns / villages for the maintenance and upkeep of tourist sites / parks, etc. The objective of the Award was to proactively involve the municipal authorities and to get their commitment towards clean, hygienic and attractive surroundings in cities/towns/villages and to thereby enhance visitor experience.
It is an ongoing endeavour of the Ministry to diversify the tourism products of the country by developing and promoting new niche segments, so as to attract different categories of tourists with diverse interests and to promote India as a year – round destination. In keeping with this thrust of the Ministry a new category of awards “Tour Operators Promoting Niche segments” had been introduced in 2011.
Further, people with different abilities and older persons are now becoming a growing group of consumers of travel, sports and other leisure-oriented products and services. In an effort to tap the potential of this group for promotion of tourist destinations in the country, the Ministry of Tourism has taken an initiative to make tourist destinations barrier-free. Ministry of Tourism also has the specific agenda to promote tourism in the country in a responsible and sustainable manner. To encourage accessible and responsible tourism in the country the Ministry of Tourism has instituted National Tourism Awards in the categories of “Best Maintained and Disabled Friendly Monument” and“Best Responsible Tourism Project”.
India’s Cities are repositories of the Heritage and Culture of the country and the monuments and other cultural manifestations of the City contribute to the promotion of that city as a tourist destination in recognition of which“Best Heritage City” and “Best Heritage Walk” awards were introduced in 2012.
The medium of ‘Cinema’ has in recent years emerged as a powerful tool for the development and promotion of destinations. Several destinations have gained by being the venue / location of popular domestic and international cinema. Recognising the importance of this medium, the Ministry of Tourism has instituted a National Tourism Award for the “Most Film Promotion Friendly State/UT”.