March 16, 2017 | Ananya Prem Nath (Manager - Research & Training, MEDC)
Tourism is now well recognized as a major growth engine. Several countries have transformed their economies by developing their tourism potential. Tourism has great capacity to create large-scale employment – from the most specialized to the unskilled.
The Indian economy is undergoing a major transformation. With an annual growth of eight percent, India has become the second most favoured destination for foreign direct investment. As an economic activity in the service sector, tourism also has enormous potential for contributing to economic growth.
Tourism has the potential to change the economic face of a region. Promotion of tourism would bring many direct and indirect benefits to the people. Some of the direct benefits accruing to the local community of a region as a result of tourism development are:
· Employment opportunities in tourism and hospitality sector
· Development of private enterprise
· Improved standard of living
· Social upliftment and improved quality of life
· Better education and training
· Sustainable environmental practices
. Foreign exchange earning
Tourism Potential in Maharashtra
Maharashtra is the third largest State of India, both in area and population. It is located on the West Coast of India with a 720 km long coastline along the lush green Konkan region. Nestled in the Western Ghats and the Sahyadri mountain range are several hill stations and water reservoirs with semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, with its dense forests, is home to several wild life sanctuaries and nature parks. Thus all the three regions of Maharashtra offer considerable tourism potential. Maharashtra abounds in numerous tourist attractions ranging from ancient cave temples, unspoiled beaches, ancient forts and monuments, forests and wildlife, unique hill stations, pilgrimage centres, and a rich tradition of festivals, art and culture.
The growth of tourism in India has been rapid in the last five years despite a late start. Tourist arrivals have gone up by more than 25% and foreign exchange earnings has jumped by 40%. The World Travel & Tourism Council has rated India as one of the five fastest growing tourism economies in the world. The survey conducted by “Lonely Planet” has also supported this view. The rich heritage, trade, culture, history and growing economy have become major attractions for the tourists. The survey conducted by “Conde Nast Traveller” came out with the finding that India is preferred to many other tourist destinations like France, Singapore and Switzerland.
The rapid growth in domestic tourism can be attributed to the ever increasing middle class, increase in disposable income, improved facilities, stress on urban families, improved connectivity to tourist destinations, etc. Not all foreign tourists visiting Mumbai visit Maharashtra. Some of these foreign tourists come to Mumbai as an entry point to India and proceed to various other states. There is need and scope to attract these visitors into Maharashtra to the various tourist destinations in our State.
Action Plan for the Next Five Year.
The following action plan will be implemented in the next five years to achieve the above objectives and the long-term vision for 2025.
Development of infrastructure at tourist destinations: Various tourism facilities such as accommodation facilities, eateries, toilets, information centres, etc. would be developed at all destinations. For this, the incentive policy proposed will encourage private partnership in tourism related activities and infrastructure development. Access to weekend destinations (hill-stations, beaches, etc.) near major cities in Maharashtra would be given preference.
Accessibility to tourism destinations and wayside amenities: Approach roads would be identified to various tourist destinations in Maharashtra. The roads would be assessed for suitability (carrying capacity, quality, etc.) and would be considered for further development. In addition, rail linkages and air connectivity to important tourism destination must be strengthened by co-ordination with the concerned departments and Ministries.
Development Control Regulation at destinations: ‘Development Control Regulations’ would be prepared to work as guidelines for development at and around important tourism destinations/ areas.
Recreational facilities at destinations: Entertainment facilities such as children's sports, horse rides, light and sound shows (based on feasibility) will be arranged at selected destinations. Providing recreation and entertainment at tourism destinations can convert day tourists into staying tourists.
Public-Private-Partnership: Specific destinations and monuments would be identified where public-private partnership is possible. Conservation plans would be prepared for the identified monuments. The concept of Public Private partnership would also be applied to the development of resorts at select destinations and for the organization of festivals.
World Heritage Sites: Conservation and tourism development of three heritage sites (Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta) are covered under external funding. Special attention will be given to the newly declared site - Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. A detailed conservation and tourism plan will be prepared to showcase it as one of Mumbai’s tourist attractions.
Cultural Tourism: Distinctive aspects of Maharashtra’s rich culture and tradition would be identified and promoted as an integral part of Maharashtra's tourism.Identify and promote the State’s folk arts and organize folk dance and music programmes at tourist destinations.
Application of Information Technology for tourism: Effective utilisation of the website/portal for tourism promotion of Maharashtra in India and abroad would be ensured. Online advertising material would be prepared by MTDC and posted on the portal. Online bookings for the Deccan Odyssey as well as for all MTDC resorts will be operationalised.
PUBLIC - PRIVATE-PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM DESTINATIONS
It is essential to attract investment in the tourism sector in order to upgrade infrastructure facilities as well as to market tourism destinations. Many tourist destinations all over the world have been privatized and are running successfully. This model of PPP should be suitably applied to tourist destinations in Maharashtra.
The privatization policy will help tourism in the following respects -
a) It will develop the destination as a tourist centre and provide necessary amenities;
b) It will help to preserve our heritage and culture which require considerable resources.
c) The private investor will work to promote the destination in order to recover his investment. This will boost marketing of the destinations in Maharashtra.
Mumbai being the financial capital of the country and the biggest business centre, it naturally attracts a large number of visitors all year. Mumbai receives about 35% of the foreign tourist arrivals in India. It is also estimated that about 70% of tourists from the South-East Asian countries regard Mumbai as a gateway city while visiting India.
Mumbai's glamour and glitter, shopping plazas and malls, the indomitable spirit of its people and the large number of interesting places in Mumbai, make it a destination of choice.
Apart from the existing tourist attractions in Mumbai, efforts will be made to create additional tourist attractions as follows :-
(a) The concept of "Bollywood Tourism" will be developed as this forms a great attraction for tourists coming to Mumbai.
(b) Night Cruises will be promoted along the illuminated coastline of Mumbai, Water sport facilities by day could be another attraction.
(c) A Mumbai Haat will be set up along the lines of the Delhi Haat to promote local, arts, crafts and cuisines.
(d) A well equipped Convention Centre in Mumbai.
(e) Festivals and cultural events will be organized and supported by Maharashtra Tourism.
(f) The concept of Medical Tourism will be developed and marketed at international tourism fora.
(g) The total star room capacity available in Mumbai is 9100 rooms which is quite inadequate. There is an acute shortage of 3 star, 4 star and budget hotels. The
Govt. will encourage hotels in this category by devising a package of incentives.
(i) Shopping festivals in Mumbai.
Maharashtra has already been declared safest state and Mumbai is the safest city in the country. Tourism police were trained and deployed by state 7 to 8 years back at important tourist centres and monuments. Yet, especially Mumbai police has always tried innovative ways through PPP model to handle the tourists.
We can encourage formulation of tourism cooperative society at the important tourism centres and locations. This will involve all stakeholders of tourism sector. The special officers will be deputed who will concentrate on providing security for visitors and will be visible in tourist areas. We have taken initiative for having separate budget head for creating awareness among localities about pros and cons of tourism so that development is socially sustainable. State will establish the code of conduct for safe and honorable tourism.
(Source: Ministery of Tourism, Indian Express Articles)