Maharashtra’s unique initiatives to get tourism sector back on track

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One of many sectors that has been savagely impacted most by Covid-19 is the tourism sector. Nevertheless, through the lockdown interval, Maharashtra ensured that it launched insurance policies and packages which might assist entice extra investments and home vacationers. Excerpts:

In Covid-19 instances, what did you do to revive the sector?

In the course of the pandemic, the Directorate of Tourism performed twin roles. Within the first lockdown, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Exterior Affairs (on the centre) had assigned us the accountability to assist overseas vacationers caught within the state through the lockdown. Vacationers had been caught in lots of locations of Maharashtra like Tadoba (Nagpur), Aurangabad and so forth. So, we had been assigned the duty to assist these vacationers on board the flight when their respective international locations supplied flights to take their residents again. So, we helped 243 overseas vacationers as lockdown restrictions had been in place and travelling throughout the state was troublesome.

There was no — or very minimal — work happening within the tourism sector through the first wave of Covid-19. So, we determined to deal with policy-level adjustments for the business. The very first thing was implementing a 20-year-old coverage — we gave tourism the specified business standing — making Maharashtra the primary state in India to take action. After that, we ensured that agro-tourism, caravan tourism, seashore shacks, and ease of doing insurance policies obtained an impetus. These insurance policies are crucial for the tourism of Maharashtra. There’s a change in vacationer behaviour as we speak, and travellers are avoiding crowded locations.

Protecting this in thoughts, we launched agro-tourism and caravan tourism insurance policies. For the agro-tourism coverage, now we have obtained an excellent response. Greater than 400 farmers have registered with us and have set-up their centres within the state. So, the state is coaching them on hospitality, advertising and so forth. Caravan tourism is, nevertheless, taking time to select up. That is primarily as a result of there’s a car tax for caravans which is barely on the upper facet. The choice is taken on this. We’re ready for GR to be issued. Final yr, below the seashore shack coverage, the Directorate recognised eight seashores the place the coverage may very well be carried out. So, the plan is prepared. After Diwali, seashore shacks and seashore facility centres will begin.

How would you make sure that the vacationers are secure from the virus?

Fundamental guidelines exist. However there’s a detailed protocol in place for lodging, open areas, transportation and so forth. Together with the Indian authorities, we’re making use of an utility — Saathi. And from Maharashtra, round 370 lodges have registered on this app. Thus making certain that they’re following Covid-19 protocols.

The place is Maharashtra as we speak within the case of medical tourism?

At current, for worldwide vacationers, solely medical tourism is permitted. Residents from the middle-east international locations, east African international locations and Bangladesh are primarily coming to the state for medical tourism. Maharashtra is the one state in India to have 9 international-accredited medical services in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune. There are devoted medical tourism wings within the state.

Sufferers are coming, however they’re dealing with a variety of difficulties as a result of irregularities in flights. This sector is choosing up. And to spice up this sector additional, the Maharashtra Tourism division will organise an Worldwide Medical Tourism convention with international locations from the place these medical vacationers are arriving. We’re creating extra medical vacationer facilitators, and our focus is to facilitate medical tourism. By rising the variety of medical vacationer facilitators, we had been are attempting to attain that.

Would you may have particulars on the variety of home vacationers Maharashtra attracts?

Earlier than the pandemic, the home vacationer arrival was 14 crores. It’s estimated that home vacationers for 2021 shall be round 3.9 crores.

How a lot was invested within the sector through the pandemic?

The state has invested round Rs 300 crore.

How a lot funding is predicted within the sector?

In the course of the pandemic, we signed MoUs with 13 hospitality firms. It will entice Rs 3,000 crore price of investments within the close to future. The land has been bought, and the development exercise has began. Aurangabad, Nagpur, Pune and Sindhudurg areas have attracted main investments. We’ve got enlisted 39 properties of MTDC, which embrace present resorts, open areas and so forth. We’ve got floated a young for these properties and predict investments price Rs 1,000 crore in these properties.

We’re additionally creating two ropeways below the BOT mannequin — Ekvira Devi Temple and Rajgad Fort. We predict round Rs 200 crore funding in these tasks. We’ve got finalised the DPR. These had been the investments that went on through the Covid-19 interval.

Going ahead, are there any particular packages or schemes that may assist Maharashtra?

That is an space that we need to focus extra on. In comparison with Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, we discovered that ideas like packages, group excursions and household excursions aren’t fairly prevalent in Maharashtra. Main tourism in Maharashtra is weekend tourism. Now, our focus is to develop an ecosystem that may deal with ideas like packages and so forth. We’re roping in tour operators from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, and so forth., and different states to make sure this occurs. At the moment, now we have recognized 25 packages. On World Tourism Day, we’re launching our new web site. We are going to promote these packages on the web site.

Some other upcoming initiatives?

We’re planning to organise 20 mini-festivals within the coming days. We’re planning a social media exercise as nicely to create consciousness about numerous areas within the state. We’re taking a look at environment friendly rental houses insurance policies that may assist utilise all of the villas mendacity vacant within the outskirts of the cities.

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Printed on: Monday, September 27, 2021, 07:00 AM IST

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