Besides, initiatives have taken to simplify hotel classification and rationalise tax structure to make tourism sector more competitive.

"The e-visa scheme is expected to be rolled out shortly. We are trying to make it operational by October," Tourism Minister Sripad Naik said after a national conference of state tourism ministers here.

Asked whether the Home and External Affairs ministries have any reservation over the e-visa scheme, he said, "There is no reservation over the scheme. The discussion is on with all ministries concerned and the scheme will be rolled out in phases."

According to the plan, the e-visa facility will be extended to all countries except 10 nations including Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

Naik said steps have also been taken to rationalise the tax structure to make various tourism destinations competitive and promote seamless travel from one state to another.

He said hotel classification system has been simplified to grant necessary licences and no objection certificates for various tourism services in a time bound manner.

The minister, however, said "It is state government's responsibility to reduce the tax structure."

Emphasising on cleanliness, Naik said his ministry will give cash reward to civic bodies which excel in maintaining the tourism sites clean and hygienic.

Asked about the creation of tourist police force for safety of tourists, he said, "12 states have so far created exclusive tourist police. Uttar Pradesh has also written to us that they are having tourist police at a few selected spots like Agra and Varanasi."

Naik admitted that violent incidents involving tourists affect the image of the country and damage tourism potential. "It should not happen as it always affects tourism. Law and order should be maintained at any cost."

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