Soon after taking charge as Union tourism minister, Prahlad Singh Patel said his ministry will work to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘New India’ by investing in strengthening the country’s cultural roots and promoting the tourism sector. He said the tourism sector provides immense employment opportunities and that work done in the past five years will be taken forward at a much greater pace and in a time-bound manner.

The five-time MP, who represents the Damoh Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh, lauded the themed circuit-based projects already undertaken by the ministry and said that regions such as the Northeast and Madhya Pradesh are full of possibilities.

“India is a large country and its cultural might is no less. This vast cultural diversity of the country itself is the main cause of attraction for tourists. Areas like Bundelkhand and the Narmada river are great cultural attractions. Bundelkhand is very rich in culture and history but has not been represented adequately and has not got the attention it deserves,” said Patel. “We will take stock of the statistics and key indicators. Treating tourists well is everybody’s responsibility.”

While collated data for foreign tourist arrivals in India for 2018 and the first quarter of this year are awaited, the ministry had earlier said that in January 2017 the number of foreign tourists crossed the 10 million mark for the first time, growing 15.6% year-on-year to 10.18 million. The number of tourists who came on e-visas during the month increased 57% to 1.7 million.

A member of several parliamentary committees in the 16th Lok Sabha, Patel, 59, is said to have wide-ranging interests in social and cultural activities including preservation of Indian culture, development of rural areas, farmers’ welfare and promotion of sports.