The Gujarat government is working on a new policy to attract more holiday makers with a focus on developing eco-tourism spots, especially wildlife, and attract more participation from the private sector. The new tourism policy will replace the existing one which was announced in 2009, Saurabh Patel, Gujarat Finance Minister, who also holds the Tourism portfolio, said. “We are working on a new tourism policy right now. Through the policy, we will try to develop new destinations and boost eco-tourism, especially wildlife tourism”, he said.
“There are many destinations across the state which are close to nature and can be developed as tourist spots. To identify such destinations, the Tourism Department has roped in the Forest Department”, he told PTI. Patel was speaking after Gujarat bagged four National Tourism Awards 2013-14 at a function in New Delhi. President Pranab Mukherjee gave away these awards to S J Haider, Gujarat Tourism Secretary who was deputed by Patel as he could not make it to the event.
The MLA from Akota constituency said “Gujarat bagged four awards – Best State Award for Comprehensive Development of Tourism; Best Rural Tourism Project for Rann Utsav, Best Tourism Promotion Publicity Material for ‘Gujarat’s 50 Golden Destinations’ coffee table book and Best Film Promotion Friendly State”. Rann Utsav, Gujarat’s annual winter desert festival, started as a three day festival in 2005, but it has now become a three month long activity. The event recorded an estimated tourist inflow of 1.91 lakh in 2014-15.
Patel said the government will focus on infrastructure development for the hospitality sector and attract more participation from the private sector. “Our objective is to be a part of the Incredible India campaign of the Union Ministry of Tourism. Given the growth in the state, we not only want to promote our festivals, religious, adventure destinations but also target MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) sector. We are planning to develop home stay facilities to give tourists a chance to experience the local flavour”, he said.
The Tourism Department has a budget of Rs 400 crore which we want to use for developing tourism infrastructure as well as promote Gujarat in India and abroad, Patel said. “Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh nationally and Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia on international level are Gujarat’s competitors in tourism sector”, he said.
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