Due to all these efforts, today India has become the third largest aviation market in the world. The way UDAN scheme has fulfilled the dreams of the middle class of the country, it is indeed a subject of research by universities and the academic world. Not many years ago, the middle class used to check train tickets first for travelling long distances. Now even for a short distance travel, they look for the plane tickets first. Air travel is their first choice. As air connectivity is expanding in the country, air travel is becoming accessible to all.
We often hear that tourism expands the soft power of any country and that is indeed true. But it is equally true that when the power of a country expands, the world wants to know more about it. If there is something to see, to know and understand about that country,then the world definitely gets more attracted towards it. If you look into the history, you will find that when India was prosperous, there was a fascination for India around the world. Travellers, traders, businessmen and students from all over the world used to come here. But there was a long period of slavery after that. India’s nature, culture, civilization remained the same, but the image of India had changed; the way of looking at India had changed. The subsequent generations of those who were once eager to come to India, did not even know where India was located!
Now India of the 21st century is a New India. Today, as India is building its new image on the global stage, the outlook of the world is also changing rapidly. Today the world wants to know and understand India. Today, on digital platforms, foreigners are narrating the story of India to the world extensively. Keeping all these things in mind, it is now very essential that ‘Ease of Travel’ is ensured in the country. In line with this thinking, during the last 8 years, India has made every possible effort to increase ‘Ease of Travel’ and to expand its tourism profile. You will observe that we have simplified the visa process and enhanced the facilities of visa on-arrival. We focused on modern infrastructure and last-mile connectivity. Along with air connectivity, we are also focusing upon digital connectivity, mobile connectivity and railway connectivity. Today, most of the tourist destinations are being connected by railways. Modern trains like Tejas and Vande Bharat Express are becoming a part of the Railways. Trains with Vistadome Coaches are enhancing the tourist experience. We are continuously experiencing the impact of all these efforts. In the year 2015, the number of domestic tourists in the country was 14 crore. Last year it had increased to around 70 crores. Now after Corona, tourism from within the country and all over the world is increasing rapidly. Goa is also getting the benefit of the decision to start vaccination drive on a priority basis in tourist destinations. Therefore, I congratulate Pramod ji and his team.
We all know that tourism has the maximum potential for generating employment and self-employment. Everyone earns from tourism. It provides opportunities to everyone. And there is no need to explain so much to the people of Goa as they are already aware of these things.
We all know that tourism has the maximum potential for generating employment and self-employment. Everyone earns from tourism. It provides opportunities to everyone. And there is no need to explain so much to the people of Goa as they are already aware of these things. So, the double engine government is laying so much emphasis on tourism, strengthening every means of connectivity. Here in Goa too, since 2014, more than Rs 10,000 crore has been invested in projects related to highways. Relentless work is being done to reduce the traffic problem in Goa. Goa has also benefitted a lot from the electrification of Konkan Railways.
Besides these efforts related to connectivity, the government’s emphasis is also on promoting heritage tourism. Emphasis has been laid on the maintenance of our heritage, its connectivity and the development of facilities there. The development of the historic Aguada Jail Complex Museum in Goa is also an example of the same. Using modern technology, we are making our heritage sites more attractive across the country. Special trains are also being run to help visit the pilgrimage sites and heritage sites of the country.
Today I also want to congratulate the Government of Goa for one more thing. Besides the physical infrastructure, the Government of Goa is laying equal emphasis on social infrastructure. ‘Swayampurna Goa’ is a very successful campaign being run to ensure that ‘Ease of living’ is growing in Goa and no one here is deprived of the benefits of government schemes. A commendable work has been done in this direction. Today Goa has set a very good example of 100 percent saturation. I hope that all of you will keep doing such development works and keep making life easier for the people. With this wish, I end my speech by congratulating all of you for this grand airport!
Heartiest congratulations to you all! Thanks a lot.