Tourism Sector

Sep, 06, 2019

Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019


  • A report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking the travel & tourism competitiveness of 140 economies was recently released.

About the Index

  • Published biennially by WEF, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmarks the Travel & Tourism (T&T) competitiveness of 140 economies.
  • The study scored countries on four indicators — enabling environment; travel and tourism policy and enabling conditions; infrastructure; natural and cultural rankings.
  • The four broad indicators looked at 14 variables, which were further subdivided into 90 indicators such as property rights, efficiency of the legal framework, quality of electricity supply, female labour force participation, visa requirements and the number of World Heritage cultural sites.

India’s progress

  • The biennial report shows that India has made the greatest improvement since 2017 among the top 25 per cent of the countries that were previously ranked.
  • Overall, India is ranked 34, up six places from 2017.
  • India’s highest improvement was in enabling environment, by 10 places to 98.
  • The least improvement is in infrastructure as well as in natural and cultural rankings, by just three places each, but India’s rank was already high in the latter.

Global scene

  • Spain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States are the world’s most travel-ready nations.
  • Japan remains Asia’s most competitive travel and tourism economy, ranking 4th globally.
  • China is the largest travel and tourism economy in Asia-Pacific and 13th most competitive globally.
Aug, 23, 2019

Henley Passport Index 2019


  • The latest Henley Passport Index ranks India at 86, down five places from 81 in 2018. The index ranks passports based on their power and mobility.
  • Last year, an Indian passport holder had visa-free access to 60 countries; this year, it has access to 58.

Henley Passport Index 2019

  • Prepared by Henley and Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, the Henley Passport Index claims to be the “original ranking of all the world’s passports”.
  • The index gathers data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that manages inter-airline cooperation globally.
  • The Index is updated in real time according to countries’ visa policy changes. It covers 227 destinations and 199 passports.
  • The index receives data from the IATA on a fixed day every year that forms the basis of the index.
  • This data is supplemented by accounting for real-time changes in visa policies using publicly available sources to prepare a visa list, which is a list of destinations that a passport can access visa-free, through a visa on arrival, e-visa or with a traditional visa.

How are passport ranks and scores interpreted?

  • Each passport is attributed with a score and a rank.
  • For instance for 2019, India’s score is 58 and it ranks 86 in the list. Japan and Singapore, on the other hand, are ranked 1 and have a score of 189.
  • The score is the sum of the number of countries accessible by that passport holder without requiring pre-departure government approval for visa-types including a visitor’s permit, visa on arrival or an electronic travel authority (ETA).
  • For every territory/country that a passport holder of a particular country/territory is able to access through these visa-types (without pre-departure government approval), a value of 1 is attributed to it.
  • A value of 0 is attributed to a score when a passport holder has to seek pre-departure government approval for visa-types including e-visa (visas applied for online and received) and visa on arrival.
  • Therefore, the total score becomes the sum total for all the values of 1.
  • For instance, a passport holder from Singapore and Japan can travel to 189 countries/territories without requiring pre-departure government approval.

What does this mean for Indian passport holders?

  • India has a score of 58. That is the number of destinations an Indian passport holder can travel to today, without pre-departure government approval.
  • That is the same as a citizen of any country, on an average, could travel to 13 years ago.
  • In 2006, a citizen, on an average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.
  • Afghanistan holds the weakest passport, with a score and ranking of 25 and 109, respectively. Syria and Pakistan follow with rankings of 107 and 106 and scores of 29 and 30, respectively.
  • Passport rankings point towards the strength of diplomatic relations between countries.
  • In the past decade travel freedom has expanded vastly as a result of the rising number of bilateral visa-waiver programmes signed between different countries and unilateral decisions implemented by governments of some countries.

What assumptions does the index make?

  • The index assumes that the passport is valid, belongs to an adult who is a citizen of the issuing country and that it is not diplomatic, emergency or temporary in nature.
  • It also assumes that the person travelling is doing so alone, rather than in tourist groups and meets all the basic requirements for entry such as hotel reservations.
  • Furthermore, the traveller is assumed to be arriving and departing from the same airport and is seeking a short stay (between three days-several months) for business and tourist purposes only.
Jul, 29, 2019

Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative


Iconic Tourist Sites Initiative

  • During her Budget speech earlier this month, Finance Minister said that 17 “Iconic Tourist Sites” in the country would be developed by the government into world class tourist destinations.
  • The initiative was aimed at enhancing India’s soft power. The Sites included:
  1. Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh)
  2. Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra)
  3. Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort (Delhi)
  4. Colva Beach (Goa)
  5. Amer Fort (Rajasthan)
  6. Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat)
  7. Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh)
  8. Hampi (Karnataka)
  9. Mahablipuram (Tamil Nadu)
  10. Kaziranga (Assam)
  11. Kumarakom (Kerala)
  12. Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar)


  • The government is looking at overall development from the tourism point of view in and around these sites — which includes roads and infrastructure, hotels and lodges, connectivity and access.
  • As such, several ministries, from Railways to Civil Aviation, will be involved, while the Tourism Ministry will be the nodal agency.
  • In keeping with international standards, interventions in and around the monuments will have elements of universal accessibility, green technology, and enhanced security for tourists.
Jul, 03, 2019

[pib] Ramayana Circuit


Ramayana Circuit

  • Ramayana Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of Ministry of Tourism.
  • The destinations under the circuit will be developed by bridging infrastructural gaps like provision of drinking water, accommodation facilities, etc.
  • Then the 15 places will be connected to form a circuit.
  • The scheme will be a joint effort of the states and the central government. It has a larger aim of providing job opportunities to local artisans, as it promotes local art and craft.

Destinations under Ramayana Circuit

The Ministry has initially identified fifteen destinations for development under the Circuit theme namely:

  • Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar)
  • Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Mahendragiri (Odisha)
  • Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh)
  • Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra)
  • Bhadrachalam (Telangana)
  • Hampi (Karnataka)
  • Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu).

Other such Tourism Circuits

  • Krishna Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Spiritual Circuit are three of the other 12 circuits under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, which seeks to boost religious tourism in India.
  • As of now, 10 destinations have been finalised under the Krishna Circuit, which will pertain to his journey in India.
  • The 9 remaining circuits, though not for religious tourism, aim to connect all major cultural heritage spots and other touristy spots of India, making travel-planning easier.
  • A similar scheme, the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD), with the same objectives as the Swadesh Darshan scheme, aims to develop 13 pilgrimage cities across India.
Feb, 18, 2019

[pib] Government liberalizes the e-Visa regime


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: New visa norms

Mains level: Promoting tourism through visa norms relaxation


  • Recently, government has made series of amendments in e-visa regime, liberalizing it further and making it more tourist friendly.
  • The e-Tourist Visa which was introduced in Sept. 2014 with 46 countries has now been made applicable for 166 countries.

Changes in e-Tourist Visa

  • On e-Tourist Visa continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 90 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa except nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan.
  • In case of nationals of USA, UK, Canada and Japan continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days.
  • In all cases no registration will be required.

Changes in e-Business Visa

  • Continuous stay during each visit shall not exceed 180 days in case of nationals of all countries who are eligible for grant of e-visa
  • No registration will be required if the stay is for a period of less than 180 days.

Other changes:

  • e-Visa is valid for entry through 2 (two) more designated Airports (Bhubaneswar and Port Blair) raising the total number of such airports to 28.
  • Attending Destination wedding under normal e-Tourist visa or Tourist visa- No separate category of Destination Wedding Visa
  • Foreign nationals who fall sick during their stay in India can now avail medical treatment without converting their visa into Medical Visa.
  • This would take care of sudden medical emergencies.
  • Visa-on-Arrival facility extended to the nationals of Republic of Korea.
Jan, 24, 2019

PM launches Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana


Mains Paper 2: IR | Indian Diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

Mains level: Various initiatives for Indian Diaspora


Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana

  1. Hon’ble PM has launched the scheme under which a group of Indian diaspora will be taken on a government-sponsored tour of religious places in India twice a year.
  2. The first batch of 40 Indian-origin people at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will begin their tour.
  3. They will be taken to religious places of all major religions in India and the government will bear all the expenses including the airfare from their country of residence.
  4. All people of Indian-origin aged 45 to 65 can apply and a group will be selected out of them with first preference given to people from ‘Girmitiya countries’ such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

Who are the Girmitiya ?

  1. Girmityas or Jahajis are descendants of indentured Indian labourers brought to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa, the Malay Peninsula, Caribbean and South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname).
  2. They were hired to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers and save the Fijians from having to work on these plantations and thus to preserve their culture.
  3. “Agreement” is the term that has been coined into “Girmit”, referring to the “Agreement” of the British Government with the Indian labourers.
  4. It was termed to the length of stay in Fiji and the Caribbean, and when they would be allowed to go back to India.
Jan, 22, 2019

Arunachal govt declares Pakke Hornbill Fest as ‘state festival’


Mains Paper 1: Arts and Culture| Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hornbill Festival, Great Indian Hornbill

Mains level: India’s rich cultural treasure and ways to preserve it


  • The government of Arunachal Pradesh has declared the Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)–the state’s only conservation festival, as a “state festival”.

Pakke Paga Hornbill Festival (PPHF)

  1. The first-ever PPHF was held on January 16–18, 2015.
  2. The organizers had a number of objectives in mind-
  • to recognise the role played by the resident Nyishi tribe in conserving hornbills in the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR),
  • to devise alternative sources of income for a region that relies on hunting and logging, and
  • to tell the rest of the country about the wonders of the PTR and its surrounding areas.
  1. As part of the festival, visitors are treated to cultural programmes, food stalls, plays, sightseeing, river and village walks, bird-watching, screenings of short films as well as local tribal sports and dances.

About Great Indian Hornbill

  1. The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) also known as the great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill, is one of the larger members of the hornbill family.
  2. The great hornbill is long-lived, living for nearly 50 years in captivity.
  3. It is predominantly fruit eating, but is an opportunist and preys on small mammals, reptiles and birds.
  4. Its impressive size and colour have made it important in many tribal cultures and rituals.
  5. IUCN status: Vulnerable (uplisted from Near Threatened in 2018).
  6. It is also listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Dec, 05, 2018

[pib] First ever Swadesh Darshan Project in the state of Nagaland


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Mains level: Expanding tourism in Tribal areas


  • Peren-Kohima-Wokha Project is the first project to be implemented in Nagaland under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism.

Peren-Kohima-Wokha Project

  • The project “Development of Tribal Circuit: Peren-Kohima-Wokha” was sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism in November 2015.
  • Under the project the Ministry has developed facilities like Tribal Tourist Village, Eco Log Huts, Open Air Theatre, Tribal Rejuvenation Centre, Cafeteria, Helipad, Tourist Interpretation Centre, Wayside Amenities, Last Mile Connectivity etc.
  • In addition to this, the Ministry has also sanctioned another project in Nagaland “Development of Tribal circuit: Mokokchung–Tuensang-Mon” which is under progress.


Swadesh Darshan

  1. India’s rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation in the country
  2. This can be achieved only through an integrated approach by providing engaging experiences for distinct categories of tourists i.e. Domestic and International
  3. In due recognition to this the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme (Central Sector Scheme) for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country in 2014-15
  4. Various themes which are unique and specific to the area can include beaches, culture, heritage, wildlife etc.
  5. Such theme based tourist circuits are developed in a manner that supports communities, provides employment and fosters social integration without comprising upon the environmental concerns and provides unique experiences to the tourists
  6. This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other Government of India schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation and economic growth.
Nov, 23, 2018

Manipur Sangai Festival


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Sangai Deer and its habitat

Mains Level: Promoting eco-tourism in North East India


Manipur Sangai Festival 2018

  1. The ‘Manipur Sangai Festival’, the biggest tourism festival of the state was recently inaugurated in Imphal.
  2. This year’s festival is going to create history as it is being organised at three venues of both hill and valley districts including Imphal, Mao and Keibul Lamjao for the first time.
  3. Altogether, 99 stalls from 10 foreign countries and 112 for India will be opened during the festival.
  4. Many foreign dignitaries, including 100 delegates from Myanmar will also be attending the 10 days long grand event.

About the Festival

  1. Sangai festival is an annual cultural festival organised by Manipur Tourism Department every year from November 21 to 30.
  2. The Tourism Festival, since 2010 has been renamed as the Sangai Festival as Sangai is the state animal of Manipur.
  3. Homage is paid to this shy and gentle Brow-Antlered Deer which is found only in the state’s floating Keibul Lamjao National Park in Loktak Lake.
  4. The festival showcases tourism potential of Manipur in field of arts & culture, handloom, handicrafts, indigenous sports, cuisine, music and adventure sports of the state etc.
  5. The tourism festival promotes Manipur as a world class destination.
  6. Noted sites associated with the festival:
  • Mao
  • Ukhrul
  • Lamboikhongnangkhong, Uripok
  • Keibul Lamjao
  • Khuman Lampak
  • Hapta Kangjeibung.

Sangai Deer

  1. The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, India.
  2. IUCN status: Endangered
  3. The brow-antlered deer or the dancing deer is found in its natural habitat only at Keibul Lamjao National Park over the floating biomass locally called “phumdi” in the south eastern part of Loktak Lake.
  4. Phumdis are the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil. Its thickness varies from few centimeters to two meters.
  5. The humus of phumdi is black in color and very spongy with large number of pores. It floats with 4/5 part under water.
Nov, 01, 2018

[pib] United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNWTO and its mandate

Mains level: Not Much



  • The delegation Ministry of Tourism is attending the 109th session of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council in Manama, Bahrain.

Programme and Budget Committee of UNWTO

  1. India’s tourism minister chaired the ‘Programme and Budget Committee’ meeting of UNWTO.
  2. It highlighted the role of tourism in socio-economic development through job creation, enterprise and environment development and foreign exchange earnings.
  3. As the chair of the Committee, the Minister informed the session that for the first time, UNWTO had a surplus budget and most of the arrears due have been paid.
  4. India will be the chair of Programme and Budget Committee of UNWTO Executive Council till 2021.



  1. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
  2. The UNWTO Executive Council represents the Organization’s governing body.
  3. Its task is to take all necessary measures in consultation with the Secretary-General, for implementation of its own decisions and recommendations of the Assembly and report thereupon to the Assembly.
  4. The Council meets at least twice a year.
  5. The council consists of 35 Full Members elected by the assembly in proportion of one member for every Five Full Members.
  6. The membership is in accordance with the Rules of Procedure laid down by the Assembly with a view to achieving fair and equitable geographical distribution.
Oct, 04, 2018

Lagoon villas to come to Lakshadweep’s emeralds


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Holistic Development of Islands

Mains level: Enhancing Tourism Potential of the Islands of India


NITI Aayog Strategy to boost Tourism

  1. NITI Aayog through its plan for “holistic development of the islands” is set to boost eco tourism in Lakshadweep lagoons.
  2. It is planning to set up island water villas which in turn will be a popular alternative to leading destinations such as Mauritius and Maldives.
  3. The apex planning body, along with other stakeholders, including the Island Development Agency (IDA) is conducting a technical feasibility study for the project.

Details of the Plan

  1. The panel is identifying an island where a film city can be built.
  2. The new idea will not only attract tourists but also relieve some of the pressure on Mumbai as a filming hub.
  3. As part of the plan, the government will issue tenders for four tourism-based hospitality projects – three in Andaman & Nicobar, and one in Lakshadweep.
  4. These will mainly be eco-cottages for which private players can bid to build. The projects will add about 700 rooms.
  5. Ecological concerns and tribal-related issues are fully taken care of.

Foreign Tourists on Decline

  1. The arrival of domestic tourists in Andaman and Nicobar islands rose from over 2.02 lakh in 2011 to over 3.84 lakh in 2016.
  2. However the inflow of foreign tourists was stagnant at around 15,000.
  3. This is in spite of the fact that globally, there is a high demand for eco-tourism, adventure tourism (sea sports, game fishing) and cruise tourism.

Better Island Connectivity in A&N

  1. The Diglipur Airport (in the Andamans) is expected to be operational for civilian aircraft by December, 2018.
  2. Better connectivity to Diglipur, Port Blair, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay through smaller aircraft, supplemented with more helicopter services will boost inter-island connectivity in Andaman and Nicobar.
Sep, 18, 2018

Kerala Tourism bags coveted awards


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PATA

Mains level: Enhancing Tourism Potential in Kerala



  1. Kerala Tourism’s efforts got an impetus after its innovative marketing campaigns won the entity two prestigious gold awards of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
  2. Kerala Tourism got the first gold for its ‘Yalla Kerala’ print media campaign in the Gulf countries.

Yalla Kerala

  1. With the punch line, ‘Yalla Kerala,’ the campaign triggered a lot of interest for God’s Own Country as a tourism destination in the Gulf countries.
  2. It showcased the State’s greenery and backwaters, a different world from the Gulf, just four hours away.

Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB)

  1. The second gold award came for an innovative poster for the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB), the biggest contemporary art show in south Asia.
  2. The post titled ‘live-inspired’ featured a colourful boat and fishermen, and could be put up straight as well as upside down.


Pacific Asia Travel Association

  1. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a membership association working to promote the responsible development of travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region.
  2. Founded in 1951, the PATA is a not-for profit association that is internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific region.
  3. The PATA Awards are presented to outstanding entries in the principal categories of Marketing; Education and Training; Environment, and Heritage and Culture.
Sep, 08, 2018

Tourism Ministry sanctions new projects in Kerala under Swadesh Darshan


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swadesh Darshan Scheme, Rivers mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: Enhancing Tourism Potential in Kerala



  • Union Ministry of Tourism on sanctioned Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project under Swadesh Darshan Scheme for development of a rural circuit in Kerala.

Malanad Malabar Cruise Tourism Project

  1. The project will be focusing on the development of water-based thematic cruise experiences in and around Valapattanam and Kuppam Rivers of Kannur District.
  2. Three thematic cruises being developed under this project will be on Valapattanam and Kuppam River.
  • The first cruise on Valapattanam River will be Malabari Cuisine and Culinary Cruise (Muthappan Cruise) which will start from Valapattanam and will cover a distance of 40 Km to reach Munambu Kadavu in Valapattanam River.
  • There will be another cruise in Valapattanam River- Theyyam Cruise– which will begin from Valapattanam and will go up to Pazhayangadi in Valapattanam River.
  • The third cruise will be a Mangrove Cruise in Kuppam River covering a distance of 16 Km from Pazhayangadi to Kuppam.
  1. The cruises under the project will be operated under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
  2. Under the project the union ministry will be providing funds for development of basic infrastructure facilities such as Passenger Terminals, Boat Terminals, Bio Toilets, Wi-Fi facility, Drinking Water Facilities, Floating Markets for local produce among others etc.

Waterways in Kerala

  1. Waterways have been an important mode of transport in Kerala from the time immemorial.
  2. The total length of the navigation route in Kerala is 1900 km.
  3. Kerala has 44 Rivers and 7 Backwater regions.
  4. Water-based tourism is getting prominence all over the world. Kerala is blessed with wide stretches of water bodies. However, the potential of these is not tapped properly till date.


Swadesh Darshan

  1. India’s rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation in the country
  2. This can be achieved only through an integrated approach by providing engaging experiences for distinct categories of tourists i.e. Domestic and International
  3. In due recognition to this the Government of India, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme (Central Sector Scheme) for integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits in the country in 2014-15
  4. Various themes which are unique and specific to the area can include beaches, culture, heritage, wildlife etc.
  5. Such theme based tourist circuits are developed in a manner that supports communities, provides employment and fosters social integration without comprising upon the environmental concerns and provides unique experiences to the tourists
  6. This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other Government of India schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation and economic growth.
Aug, 23, 2018

Centre unveils International UDAN


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scheme

Mains level: Boosting tourism through subsidized air travel.


Draft “UDAN International Scheme”

  1. State governments will be able to encourage tourism on preferred international air routes by offering subsidy to domestic airlines for a period of three years.
  2. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has prepared a draft scheme document for “UDAN International” and invited comments from stakeholders.
  3. The scheme is designed for State governments that are keen to promote air connectivity on international routes identified by them and for which they are willing to provide subsidy to airlines.
  4. The scheme is meant for domestic airlines.
  5. Only fixed wing aircraft with more than 70 seats can be operated under the scheme and airlines will have to conduct a minimum of three and a maximum of seven departures on a given route on three days in a week.
  6. The Centre has allowed airlines to enter into a code-sharing arrangement with international and domestic airlines for UDAN international.
  7. The AAI may also offer additional discounts at its own discretion such as landing, parking and housing charges at airports owned by it.

Greater say for State Governments

  1. As per the draft, a State will identify international routes for which the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will determine a subsidy amount per seat and invite bids from domestic carriers.
  2. This will be followed by airlines submitting their proposals, which will include the routes they wish to connect as well as the subsidy needed by them.
  3. The airlines will bid on the percentage of flight capacity for which they require financial assistance, provided that the figure doesn’t exceed 60% of the flight capacity.
  4. The entity that quotes the lowest amount will be awarded subsidy for a particular route.
  5. However, the government will grant financial aid only for the actual number of passenger seats that are unsold, even if the airline had sought subsidy for a higher percentage of seating capacity at the time of bidding.

No cap on fares unlike UDAN

  1. An airline that is awarded a particular route will have exclusive rights to a subsidy on that route for a period of three years.
  2. The key difference between this scheme and the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) for domestic routes is that there is no capping of fares.
  3. Under RCS, fares are capped at ₹2,500 for one hour of flight on a fixed wing aircraft in order to make air travel affordable, which was why the scheme UDAN.
  4. People with disposable incomes looking to undertake international air travel for the purpose of tourism justify the rationale behind not capping fares.
  5. The financial assistance to an airline will be offered from the International Air Connectivity Fund (IACF), which will be created through the contributions made by the State government.

Present Scenario

  1. So far, Assam has proposed to offer ₹100 crore per year for flights to Kathmandu, Dhaka, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Yangon.
  2. Andhra Pradesh has also expressed its keenness to the Civil Aviation Ministry to encourage tourism.
  3. At present, the low-cost carrier AirAsia operates daily flights to Kuala Lumpur from Bhubaneshwar with a subsidy from the State government on a per-flight basis.
Aug, 23, 2018

[pib] International Buddhist Conclave 2018


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IBC

Mains level: Boosting tourism in India


6th International Buddhist Conclave (IBC), 2018

  1. Theme: “Buddha Path – The Living Heritage”
  2. The aim of the Conclave is to showcase and project the Buddhist Heritage in India and boost tourism to the Buddhist sites in the country and cultivate friendly ties with countries and communities interested in Buddhism.
  3. The Ministry of Tourism will launch its website in and a new film showcasing the Buddhist sites in the country.
  4. The Ministerial level delegation from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka will participate along with delegates from 29 countries in the conclave.

About International Buddhist Conclave

  1. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has been organizing the International Buddhist Conclave biennially.
  2. The earlier International Buddhist Conclaves were organized in New Delhi and Bodhgaya (February 2004), Nalanda and Bodhgaya (February 2010), Varanasi and Bodhgaya (September 2012), Bodhgaya and Varanasi (September 2014) and in Sarnath/Varanasi and Bodhgaya (October 2016).
  3. IBC 2018 will have a religious / spiritual dimension, an academic theme and a diplomatic and business component.
  4. The Ministry has planned to organize an ‘Investors’ Summit’ during the Conclave to attract investments in developing world class infrastructure at Buddhist sites.

Buddhist Heritage in India

  1. The most precious gift that the Ancient India has given to the World is, the Buddha and his Path, which is, the Eight-fold Path, in Pali language, Aṭṭhangiko Maggo.
  2. The Buddha Path provides quality of life based on Values as moral principles, or other ideas that guide our choices; Right beliefs, connection to nature and place with spirituality; Way of Life, daily practices, good habits and inspiring traditional skills for mental growth, thereby, making it the Living Heritage.
  3. On the other hand, the ‘Buddha Path’ also refers to the Eight Great Places of Buddhist Heritage, (referred in Pali as Aṭṭhamahāṭhānāni).
  4. These Eight Places are connected with the important events of the life of the Buddha from the time of his Birth, Enlightenment, Teaching Dhamma to suffering humanity, till he passed away, Mahāparinirvāna, at the age of 80 years.
Aug, 08, 2018

Access to Andaman eased


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Restricted Area Permit

Mains level: Boosting tourism in India


Foreigners can visit inhabited islands without Restricted Areas Permit

  1. The Union Home Ministry decided to lift restrictions as the government intends to boost tourism.
  2. Foreigners no longer need a Restricted Areas Permit to visit 29 inhabited islands in the Andaman and Nicobar chain.
  3. 11 other uninhabited islands will also be thrown open to foreigners.

Restricted Areas Permit and other provisions

  1. The 29 inhabited islands have been excluded from the restricted area permit (RAP) notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, till December 31, 2022, subject to certain conditions.
  2. However, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries would continue to require RAP to visit the Union Territory.
  3. For visiting Mayabunder and Diglipur, citizens of Myanmar will continue to require RAP, which shall be issued only with the prior approval of the ministry.
  4. Separate approvals of the competent authority would be required for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves.
Aug, 04, 2018

[pib] ‘Paryatan Parv’ to be organized nationwide from 16th to 27th September, 2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Paryatan Parv, 2018

Mains level: Not Much


Paryatan Parv, 2018

  1. Nodal Ministry: Union Ministry of Tourism
  2. Aim: drawing focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of “Tourism for All”.
  3. The Paryatan Parv will have three main components as like last year, viz.
  • Dekho Apna Desh: Encouraging Indians to visit their own country. It will focus on domestic tourists especially to sensitize youth.
  • Tourism for All: Organizing tourism events (Paryatan Mahotsav) across all destinations in the country.
  • Tourism & Governance: It will have interactive sessions and workshops with stakeholders on varied themes like Skill Development in Tourism Sector, Innovation in Tourism etc.
  1. The Paryatan Parv will start with the India Tourism Mart 2018 which will further ensure wide participation from outside the country.
  2. It shall conclude with the World Tourism Day celebrations on 27th September 2018.
Jul, 31, 2018

[pib] 26 religious cities/sites in 19 States have been identified under PRASHAD Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PRASHAD Scheme

Mains level: Not Much


Under the PRASHAD Scheme, 26 religious cities/sites in 19 States have been identified for development which inter-alia include:

Amaravati and Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Kamakhya (Assam), Patna and Gaya (Bihar), Dwarka and Somnath (Gujarat), Gurudwara Nada Saheb (Haryana), Hazratbal and Katra (Jammu & Kashmir), Deogarh (Jharkhand), Chamundeshwari Devi (Karnataka), Guruvayoor (Kerala), Una (Himachal Pradesh), Omkareshwar (Madhya Pradesh), Trimbakeshwar (Maharashtra), Puri (Odisha), Amritsar (Punjab), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Kanchipuram and Vellankani (Tamil Nadu), Varanasi and Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Badrinath and Kedarnath (Uttarakhand) and Belur (West Bengal).


  1. PRASHAD means Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive
  2. A 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Tourism Ministry
  3. Provisions under the scheme include
    • Tourism Promotion and Tourist Ecosystem
    • Vocational Training for Tourists and Hospitality Business
    • Hunar se Rozgar tak (HSRT) and earn while you learn programs
    • Improving Tourist Infrastructure
  1. Provisions regarding Tourist Infrastructure in PRASAD
  • ATM, foreign currency exchange counters
  • Rail, road water transport
  • Green energy streetlights
  • Water adventure sports
  • First-aid centres, Wi-Fi hotspots, Parking facilities
  • Green landscaping, water fountains, walkways, furniture etc.
  • Removing encroachments
Jul, 10, 2018

[pib] First ever ‘India Tourism Mart’ to be hosted in New Delhi from 16th to 18th September by the Ministry of Tourism


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India tourism mart, Federation of Associations in Indian  Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH)

Mains level: Various initiatives to promote


Promoting tourism sector

  1. The Tourism Ministry in partnership with the  Federation of Associations in  Indian  Tourism and  Hospitality  (FAITH)  and with the support of State /UT Governments  will organize  the  ‘first ever’ India  Tourism  Mart (ITM)  from  16th  to  18th September 2018  at  Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi
  2. India Convention Promotion Board (ICPB) shall coordinate the whole event
  3. The Mart will provide  a  platform  for  all stakeholders  in the  tourism  and   hospitality industries  to  interact  and   transact  business  opportunities

Objective of the event

  1. India with its great potential in tourism and hospitality sector needs to dramatically increase the foreign tourist footfall and reap the benefits
  2. The objective  of  the event  is  to  create  an annual Global  Tourism  Mart  for  India  in line with  major  international  travel  marts  being  held  in  countries   across  the world
  3. Through ITM 2018, India can showcase its hidden destinations  to the world, especially to emerging tourism markets like China, Latin America, and Japan etc.
  4. ITM will be the best platform for the States to showcase their products to international buyers, opinion makers and bloggers and attract more tourists to their respective states
  5. The  event   will   also  provide  an  opportunity  to  the  buyers  to  see  the world-class  tourism facilities  available  in our  country  such  as  Airports, Hotels,  Tourist  destinations,    upcoming  facilities,  MICE  facilities,  possibility in the field  of  adventure  tourism and other  niche  products
May, 12, 2018

Govt set to expand Buddhist tourism circuit to 21 more states

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Places associated with Buddha

Mains level: Expanding spiritual tourism in India


Expansion of Buddhist Circuit

  1. Earlier envisaged by the government as mainly comprising seven major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the ‘Buddhist Circuit’ will now be expanded to 21 other states.
  2. The Ministry of Tourism has identified stupas and viharas in these states, around which small intra-state Buddhist zones will be developed
  3. These include states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir
  4. Under the Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan scheme, the development of Sanchi, Satna, Rewa, Mandsaur, and Dhar. will be carried out

India’s first trans-national tourist circuit

  1. The Buddhist circuit is being imagined as India’s first trans-national tourist circuit, with efforts to promote tourism starting from Lumbini in Nepal, where Buddha was born, to the sites in India he traversed, including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sravasti and Sankasia (in UP and Bihar)
  2. The Tourism ministry is also in talks with the World Bank and the Japanese government for funding of infrastructure projects connected with these sites
  3. The ministry also plans to involve the private sector in building tourism infrastructure pertaining to the circuit
  4. Under the plan, Sarnath would be made the hub of Buddhist tourism in India and connected to other sites through air, rail and road transport
Apr, 14, 2018

Govt launches e-FRRO scheme to provide hassle-free travel for foreigners


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e-FRRO scheme

Mains level: Various initiatives to revive tourism sector


e-FRRO scheme

  1. The Union home ministry has flagged off the e-FRRO (e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office) scheme to expedite visa services for foreigners visiting India
  2. The e-FRRO scheme is aimed at building a centralized, transparent online platform for foreigners to avail visa related services and to provide faceless, cashless and paperless services to the foreigners with a user-friendly experience

Services provided

  1. In the new system, foreigners would be able to get as many as 27 visa and immigration-related services in India from the comfort of their place of stay
  2. Using the e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online and obtain the services through email or post without appearing in person at the FRRO office
Apr, 13, 2018

[pib] Launch of e-FRRO scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e-FRRO scheme

Mains level: Improving India’s position in global tourism


e-FRRO: e-Foreigners Regional Registration Office – to provide fast and efficient services to foreigners visiting India so that they have a pleasant experience of their stay here.

  • Aimed at building a centralized, transparent online platform for the foreigners to avail visa related services and to provide Faceless, Cashless and Paperless services to the foreigners with user-friendly experience
  • The e-FRRO scheme would be a quantum jump in improving the ease of service delivery with respect to foreigners visiting and staying in India.
  • In the new system, foreigners would be able to get as many as 27 Visa and Immigration related services in India from the comfort of their place of stay.
  • Using the e-FRRO application, foreigners can apply online on the portal and obtain the service(s) through email/post without appearing in person at the FRO/FRRO office.
Nov, 25, 2016

[pib] Learn more about Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India

  1. We recently launched the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) in association with Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI)
  2. The STCI follow the guidelines set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC)
  3. These guidelines have been evolved under the guidance of the United Nations’ agencies viz. UNEP and UNWTO
  4. STCI had been developed for the accommodation, tour operators and beaches, backwaters and lakes sectors of the tourism industry
Nov, 22, 2016

[pib] Quick pointers on Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD Schemes

  1. Ministry of Tourism’s schemes
  2. Swadesh Darshan: Integrated Development of Theme Based Tourist Circuits
  3. Investment in tourism infrastructure for development of Buddhist Circuit in India under its Swadesh Darshan Scheme
  4. PRASAD: National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive.
  5. Under PRASAD 12 cities have been identified for development initially, namely: Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwaraka, Mathura, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, Amaravati, Kanchipuram, Vellankanni, Kedarnath and Guwahati.
Sep, 27, 2016

Incredible India Investors’ Summit

  1. The summit was recently organised by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with industry body CII and the Tourism Finance Corporation of India
  2. Aim: Inviting investments from foreign and domestic players to fund 700 tourism-related projects from 29 states requiring over Rs.50,000 crore
  3. Five states- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Chattisgarh – signed 86 MoUs worth close to Rs.15,000 crore
Apr, 15, 2016

More than 1 lakh tourists availed of e-visa in March

  1. News: The govt is planning to extend the e-visa facility to more categories of tourists
  2. In March 2016, a total of 1.16 lakh visitors used the facility, an increase of a whopping 347% over the same period a year ago
  3. Reason: In Nov – 2015 and Feb – 2016, the e-visa facility for citizens was extended to many countries
  4. Measures: Tourism ministry has requested the MHA to allow MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) e-visas as well
  5. Centre is working with State govts to develop Khajuraho, Sanchi, Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Tirupati as MICE tourism destinations in India
Mar, 17, 2016

Promotion of Silk Route Tourism


  1. Context: United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Silk Road Programme for promotion of Silk Route tourism
  2. This is a collaborative platform of 33 member states dedicated to enhance sustainable tourism development along the historic Silk Road route
  3. Membership: India at present is not member of this programme
  4. Relevance: Ministry of Tourism has received a communication in Feb 2015 from UNWTO requesting for official partnership between India and the Silk Road Programme
  5. Way ahead: Matter has been referred to Ministry of External Affairs
Mar, 15, 2016

Delhi tops in crimes against foreign tourists

  1. News: Delhi topped the list for crimes against foreign tourists, despite its efforts to curb crime in the city
  2. The popular tourist state of Goa came second, followed by UP and Rajasthan
  3. Background: National Crime Records Bureau began compiling data relating to crimes against foreigners only in 2014
  4. Initiatives: The tourism ministry has taken various measures to ensure safety of both domestic and foreign tourists, such as 24*7 helpline which provides advice on action to be taken during times of distress
  5. Statistics: The foreign tourist arrivals have increased in the period 2011 – 2015
Mar, 01, 2016

Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat Programme to be Launched

  1. Aim: To link States and Districts in an annual programme
  2. That connects people through exchanges in areas of language, trade, culture, travel and tourism.
  3. Context: Announced in General Budget 2016-17
  4. It is proposed to create a closer engagement between States and Districts in a structured manner
Feb, 25, 2016

Extension of e-Tourist Visa scheme

  1. Context: e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) facility will be extended to 37 more countries from tomorrow.
  2. Relevance: Total count of countries under the scheme will become 150
  3. About Scheme: Government of India had launched the e-TV facility on November 27, 2014
  4. Till now the scheme has been extended to 113 countries at 16 Indian airports designated for providing e-Tourist visa service
  5. At present on an average 3,500 e-Tourist Visas are being granted daily to foreign nationals
Feb, 23, 2016

‘Swachh Paryatan Mobile App’ Launched

  1. Context: App facilitate the general public to communicate their complaints about any unclean area/garbage piles in and around tourist destinations
  2. Suggestions from public and tourists are solicited on this Mobile App
  3. Relevance: Initially, 25 Adarsh Smarak Monuments Protected by ASI identified for inclusion in the App
  4. Ministry: by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India through DeGS and NIC.
  5. Monitored by: The Project Monitoring Unit of Swachh Bharat Mission in Ministry of Tourism
  6. Function: This enables a citizen to take photograph of garbage at the monument and upload the same along with his/her remarks
Jan, 20, 2016

Along with e-visas, tourists to get SIM cards too

  1. The NDA govt has set up a committee to finalise the plan to help tourists arriving on e-visas gain immediate access to mobile connectivity.
  2. Currently, it takes a foreign tourist a minimum of 4-6 hours to get a SIM card activated.
  3. A five-member panel headed by Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi, is working on modalities.
  4. The e-Tourist Visa is available for citizens of 113 countries arriving at 16 airports.
  5. The government is also mulling over extending e-visa to seaports.
Jan, 14, 2016

Govt. to set up three committees to address issues in medical tourism

  1. The govt. has set up 3 sub-committees in an attempt to promote the medical tourism sector.
  2. They will look into the issues of regulation, accreditation and marketing of medical and wellness tourism in the country.
  3. Govt. is going to propose hassle-free visa facility to medical tourists.
  4. Govt. will engage with tour and travel operators and ensure that a transparent system of medical facilities is provided.
  5. The govt. had last year announced the setting up of the National Medical and Wellness Tourism Promotion Board.
Dec, 22, 2015

Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India

Ministry of Tourism has launched a Comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India (STCI) for 3 major segments of tourism industry.

  1. They are Tour Operators, Accommodation and Beaches, Backwaters, Lakes & Rivers sectors.
  2. Hotels at the project stage itself are required to incorporate various eco-friendly measures.
  3. It includes Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), Rainwater Harvesting System, pollution control, measures for energy and water conservation etc.
Oct, 31, 2015

Buddhist Tourism Circuit Special Train Commences first Journey

  1. Indian Railways is operating Buddhist Tourism Circuit Special Train through IRCTC.
  2. Launched in 2007, with objective of offering a safe, comfortable & reliable tour package for international as well as domestic travelers on the Buddhist Circuit.
  3. Train has been awarded the coveted National Tourism Award of Excellence by the Ministry of Tourism, in Feb 2009.
  4. This train has become very popular among the pilgrims and tourist across the world.
  5. Buddhist Circuit Train, popularly known as Mahaparinirvan Express is a tourist train, to attract Buddhist pilgrims as Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Kushinagar.
Oct, 23, 2015

Tourism sector a gold mine to be explored: PM

  1. PM stressed the need for improving the tourism sector across the country.
  2. The Central govt. is focusing on strengthening the facilities at every tourist destination and transit points.
  3. Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and it had the potential to offer employment opportunities even to the poorest of the poor.
  4. The PM emphasised the need for building world-class infrastructure to attract tourists as well as making the tourism sector sustainable.
Apr, 28, 2015

Gujarat launches industrial tourism

  1. Gujarat tourism Corporation along with Akshar Travels begins “Industrial tour package”.
  2. Wherein, person can see Nano plant in Sanand, Pipavav port near Amreli, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Amul Dairy in Anand.
  3. Locations of places important for match the following type MCQs in Indian Economic Geography.
Apr, 14, 2015

Gujarat government launches industrial tourism to showcase development

  1. The tour package is called as Industrial Tour of Gujarat and will cover some of the major industrial attractions of the state.
  2. It includes Tata Nano plant in Sanand, Amul Dairy in Anand, Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar and Pipavav port near Amreli.
  3. The package will also take tourists to salt pans near Okha and Kadi in Mehsana, which has the highest number of cotton gins in Asia.
  4. It is a first of its kind initiative in India.
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