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News : Tourism Infoline Launched in 12 Languages
New Delhi, India, Feb 8, 2016 -- In a bid to boost the tourism sector in India, the Union Tourism Ministry on Monday launched the tourism helpline number in 12 languages, which includes French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma introduced the 24X7 toll-free helpline number for tourists travelling or planning to travel to India.
The helpline will be available in English, Hindi, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian. Previously, it was functioning only in two languages --- Hindi and English.
"Languages were decided by tourist influx from the respective countries," said Sharma and called upon the members of the audience to test the infoline number.
Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Italian language helplines were successfully tested at the event. One of the members, who checked the Japanese language, said that the infoline was indeed the need of the hour, especially after the unfortunate events involving foreign tourists.
"This was the dream of the tourism department which has finally come true," said Sharma.
He said that the initiative has been planned under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the idea is to generate faith in the people that India is a safe country for travel.
"With the infoline, we hope to generate faith in Indian tourism among foreign travellers --- the hope that if they are in distress, there will be a help. I hope the project will be a success," he added.
The infoline has been developed in cooperation with a start-up, Tata Business Support Services. The contract was given to the firm through a bidding process. The team members for the infoline have been selected from the various foreign language institutes in the capital.
To make tourism sector friendlier, the government had launched e-visa service, and Sharma said that so far about 4,45,000 have availed the facility. The minister hoped that schemes like these would help tourism industry scale new heights.
Vinod Zutshi, Secretary of Tourism Ministry, said lack of information makes travellers change their destinations.
"The objective of the project is IEC --- Information, Education, and Communication. The second objective is to develop a help desk --- the infoline would help with tourist information and travellers stuck in times of distress. This is not just an infoline, but a helpline too," added Zutshi. He said an "Incredible India" mobile app will be ready soon.
Zutshi also said that the call centre executives working with the infoline will have to be well-equipped with information to be able to perform.
"I request the minister to sensitise these people so that they are aware and can accurately disseminate information," he said.
Talking about the previously existing internet-based information system available to foreign tourists, Sharma informed that certain websites and portals have been giving wrong information about India. "There are plans to provide tourists coming here with microchips which they can use to talk to their home countries as well as in India," he said.
"We have received suggestions that maintenance of tourist spots should be given to reputed private stakeholders. They can take care of the internal management of the place, such as washroom maintenance, restaurants, etc," the minister added.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Ministry of Tourism (India):
The Ministry of Tourism, a branch of the Government of India, is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules, regulations and laws relating to the development and promotion of tourism in India.
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2016