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Minister Mahesh Sharma lays ambitious plans for tourism, culture

IANS 12 Nov 2014, 17:31:01 PM IST

New Delhi:  Culture and Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, who took charge Wednesday, said that the government would introduce secured taxi services and integrate India's natural beauty and rich cultural history into the sector to reap benefits.

In a formal interaction with the media, Sharma, who has also been given the charge of minister of state for civil aviation, said that the three departments are interlinked and the responsibility has been entrusted on him with a "clear vision" and "mandate".

"Culture is the brand ambassador of India and we should remember that India has many things that the world doesn't have," Sharma said.

"The focus would not be only on the international tourists, as the first priority would be to introduce our youngsters to the Indian beauty. They like going to Thailand first and then Manali," he added.

When asked what measures the tourism ministry would be taking to avoid incidents like the recent robbing and killing of a Delhi-based Bengali couple in Dehradun, Sharma said "honest efforts" have to be made by the state and central governments to tackle such incidents.

"We are planning to have authorised taxi services for tourists wherein the cab will have a chip so that its movement can be tracked. It would be done in phases and first we would implement this at a few airports so that commuters can travel safely to reach their destination," he said.

Sharma won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh and has plans to build cultural centres like India Habitat Centre in Noida.

He also feels having a national and international airport in Noida and Greater Noida would contribute to making his constituency a "cultural hub".

"I will use the sophisticated word 'promotion' and not 'selling' and 'marketing' to introduce culture and tourism to the world," he said.

"India is lucky to have many natural resources and beauty, five seasons and many other things that foreigners appreciate, but Indians never look at these things. We hope to bring in that change," he said.