New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday launched the 'Adopt a Heritage' initiative on World Tourism Day, under which heritage sites will be entrusted to public and private enterprises and individuals for maintenance.
The initiative -- launched along with 'Incredible India 2.0 Campaign' -- is an attempt to boost Indian tourism with "greater focus on digital presence and social media".
Under the 'Adopt a Heritage' Project, those entrusted with the development of tourist amenities at the adopted sites would be known as 'Monument Mitras'.
Speaking at the launch organised by the Tourism Ministry, Kovind called the Indian tourism industry as one of the largest in the world.
"Its evolution can be gauged from the fact that the number of tourists across the world has increased from 2.5 crore in 1950 to 123 crore in 2016. The tourism industry contributes 10.2 per cent of the world's Gross Domestic Product. It is estimated that every 10th person in the world works in the tourism industry," an official statement quoted Kovind as saying.
"In India too, the livelihood of a very large number of people is linked to the tourism industry. In 2016, tourism's contribution to Indian GDP was 9.6 per cent, and 9.3 per cent to total employment," it said.
The President said that a rise in tourist activities in the country could help in the generation of permanent jobs and eliminating poverty.
Alphons Kannanthanam, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, pointed out India's improved Tourism Competitive Index ranking of 40 as against 52 in 2015.
He said India was a destination which meets the needs of all travellers and called upon the tourism industry leaders to innovate with visionary ideas.
The President unveiled the new 'Incredible India' website at the event and gave away National Tourism Awards to several states and other stakeholders in the industry.
In 2016, India welcomed 8.80 million foreign tourists, an increase of 9.7 per cent over the previous year. This year, it has maintained a growth rate of 15.7 per cent in foreign tourists' arrival, the government said.