Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday calling him the biggest brand ambassador of the country’s tourism and culture.
Addressing a gathering after launching various projects under the ‘Swades Darshan’ scheme in Goa, he said the PM has been talking about tourism and Indian culture on almost all the forums.
“Whether it is from the Red Fort or in the ‘Mann ki Baat’ (radio programme), there is no place where he has not mentioned about tourism and Indian culture,” the Union Tourism Minister said.
“Being the tourism minister, I feel that we are lucky that our prime minister is our biggest brand ambassador... PM’s words are heard and also people get convinced. He gives us the confidence to work better towards our aim,” he added.
Referring to the decisions taken by the Modi government to boost tourism, Patel said his ministry’s demand to reduce e-visa fees and increase the validity period of e- visas was agreed upon by the PM, giving a fillip to the tourism sector.
“We have seen that there was a surge in the tourist footfalls after we introduced e-visa to some of the countries. When I took over, there was a demand to increase the tenure for e-visa.
“We have said that there are good results from e-visa. The neighbouring countries have reduced the e-visa fees, some of the countries have made e-visa free and we said that the union government should think about it,” he said.
“When we held a meeting of tourism ministers of the states in New Delhi, a day before that we were told that the tenure of e-visa has been increased from one year to five years,” the minister said.
Patel also hinted at the possibility of reduction in GST on room tariffs.
“The stakeholders said that the hotel GST should be reduced. It has been passed on to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and I am sure we will get the results,” he said.