Since the early 1990s, the National Tourism Awards has been honouring state governments, hotels, tour operators, individuals and private organisations associated with tourism in India. This year’s edition, the ‘National Tourism Awards, 2015-16’, was held to coincide with World Tourism Day on September 27. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, was present to felicitate winners with the awards. As per the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the event’s biggest highlights were the launches of the ‘Incredible India 2.0’ campaign, the ‘Adopt A Heritage’ project and the revamped Incredible India website.

The upgraded campaign aims to give a more ‘digital and social media’ presence to the old one. The project, on the other hand, is quite interesting—it plans on inviting private and public sector companies and individuals to develop tourist amenities for heritage sites. These entities will function as ‘Monument Mitras,’ working towards making monuments more interactive and tourist-friendly. 

As for the awards itself, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh each won ‘Best State for Comprehensive Development of Tourism’ in the ‘Hall of Fame Awards’ category, while Kerala and Goa (third prize), Rajasthan (second) and Andhra Pradesh (first) won the same award, but in the ‘Other Categories’ section. Kerala and Madhya Pradesh virtually swept the state tourism board-related award categories—their other notable wins including Kerala Tourism’s ‘Most Innovative Use of Information Technology’ and Madhya Pradesh’s ‘Best State for Adventure Tourism.’ 

As for the hospitality segment, The Ashok, New Delhi won two awards (Best Hotel-Based Meeting Venue and Best Chef) while other winners include Samode Haveli (Heritage Hotel basic category), The Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur (Best Classified Hotel Five-Star Deluxe category) and ITC Maurya, New Delhi (Best eco-lodge). Among tour operators, Abercrombie & Kent won the first prize for best travel agent in the 100-crore+ forex-earnings category. The Niche Tourism Awards had the state of Sikkim and Kerala’s tourism department win awards for their Responsible tourism initiatives.