In what is being seen as probably the last major cabinet reshuffle before the 2019 general elections, tourism ministry is now in new hands. Alphons Kannanthanam, former bureaucrat from Kerala cadre and a sitting MLA from Kerala Legislative Assembly, will hold the charge of tourism ministry portfolio as the Minister of State (independent charge).
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, who was heading the tourism ministry along with the Ministry of Culture, has now been given charge of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change as the Minister of State. Reacting to the development, Sharma tweeted: “Warm welcome and hearty congratulations to all new members in Union Council of Ministers,” after the reshuffle.
The ministry of tourism, in the past few years, has undertaken several ambitious tourism projects, with an eye on creating religious circuits, and driving heritage augmentation with undertakings like HRIDAY and PRASAD. Substantial funds have been allocated for these projects and released too in a phase-wise manner. However, with only a year and a half to go in the next elections, PM’s focus on delivery of these projects on the ground may have prompted the change. Alphons has a no-nonsense reputation and is widely regarded as an able administrator, capable of driving big-ticket projects.
Some of the major challenges confronting him would be maintaining a continuity in the policy-making and ensuring speedy implementation of key projects to boost tourism numbers in the country.