The Union Minister for Tourism (IC), K J Alphons, presented the National Tourism Awards 2016-17) on the World Tourism Day in New Delhi. The Minister also launched the ‘Incredible India Mobile App’ and the ‘Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification’ programme.Speaking on the occasion, the Tourism Minister said that India has taken great strides forward in the field of tourism during the last four years of the Government and added that tourism, today, is the cornerstone of the Indian economy, as it is a major source of employment and foreign exchange, and in order to tap the full potential of this sector, industry has to join hands. Congratulating the awardees, K J Alphons also shared the concern that the tourism sector needs to improve its hospitality services since it is the hospitality offered which is the distinguishing feature of India and gives it an edge over other countries. He also added that it is the responsibility of every citizen to build the image of the country as safe for anyone to travel.The Minister also announced that India will be the host country for official World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO, in 2019. The theme for the World Tourism Day 2018 being ‘Tourism & Digital Transformation’, the Minister recounted the various digital initiatives taken by the Ministry in harnessing technology for tourism promotion, which include, launch of a new Incredible India website, 24 X7 chat-bot interface on this website, launch of a new website on Buddhism in India and many more initiatives.The Certification programme is the only one-of-its-kind of online learning which aims to brand the country in a positive light, through these facilitators, by building the capacity of the key touch points for tourists, desiring that each interaction results in the superior experience for the visitors. This online learning platform has been developed by Wipro Limited.The Incredible India mobile app showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The mobile app has been designed keeping in mind the preferences of the modern traveller and follows the trends and technologies of international standards. The app has been equipped with features to assist the traveller in each phase of their journey to India. The app has been developed by Tech Mahindra.