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Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat
Mr. Kalyan J. Shah
Gujarat Chambers Of Commerce & Industry
While Gujarat has achieved remarkable economic progress and its industrial development is truly impressive. yet it is still to realize the full potential of the tourism sector. The sector possesses the inherent capacity to become an engine of growth so to promote balanced regional development. However, despite many exercises, we have yet 10 develop a strategy tor the integrated development of tourism in Gujarat Although there are no insurmountable hurdles, yet some aspects which require special attention are summarised below. (DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR TOURISM IN GUJARAT)
1. Coastal area development
Even though Gujarat commands 1/3 of the coastline ie. 1600 k.m in the country, yet the coastal area has not been developed in the process of tourism. It is therefore essential that a blueprint for the development of the Coastal area is prepared and the same be marketed to private entrepreneurs with necessary technical and financial input. This will open up tremendous opportunities in various directions resulting in the generation of income and employment. Even though there is a lot of scope for the development of Ferry services and RORO service on the coastline, the same has not been developed. This can considerably reduce rail traffic congestion.
2. Beach development
It is a pity that in spite of the existence of beautiful beaches like MandviNana Lajja in Kutch, Shivrajpur in Jamnagar, and Ahmedpur Mandvi in Junagadh all along the 1600 km coastline, these are totally underdeveloped. As in the case of pilgrimage and heritage sites. A special plan has to be devised for developing the beaches. Given the present level of underdevelopment and keeping in the mind the heavy initial investment, it may be suggested that long term loans on soft conditions need to be provided to interested private entrepreneurs Besides, a master plan needs to be prepared for Comprehensive beach development with adequate hotel, transfer, and other facilities so that a large number of foreign tourists could be attracted in planeloads resulting in augmenting foreign exchange for the country. Depending on the availability of funds the master plan may be implemented in stages with a time-bound completion program. (Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat)
3. Growth of focussed pilgrim destinations
At present, religious tourism is the largest stream of tourists for Gujarat. It attracts intra-Gujarat, intra-country, and NRG tourists top the four most popular destinations like Dwarka, Somnath Palitana, and Udwada. However, existing visitor management systems and infrastructural bottlenecks including the lack of cleanliness cause a great deal of inconvenience and discomfort to millions of tourists every year. The State Govt. along with interested private sector parties needs to draw up a detailed blueprint for developing these pilgrimage destinations. The examples of very successfully managed pilgrimages like Tinupati& Vaishno Devi may be emulated in Gujarat. These measures would not only preserve the sanctity of these places but also help to increase the tourist traffic manifold.
4. Preservation & beautification of monuments:
It is necessary to involve the corporate sector for the refurbishment cum beautification program. State Govt. should work out an arrangement with the Archaeological Survey of India in such a way that the private sector is involved in the maintenance and preservation scheme of these monuments. These monuments have to be well packaged and their heritage value heightened for the purpose of Tourism. Central Govt. should extend help in this regard. (Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat)
5. Attracting tourists to festivals of Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts of the region play a vital role in attracting tourists. it is now well accepted that the tourists are getting more interested in the real-life of the people whom they are visiting and would like to have a feel of the place by witnessing or participating in cultural events.
Navratri and Uttarayan could be the Diggest draw tor domestic and international travelers Gujarat projects these events with all its might to the largest audience. Besides, there are a number o local fairs and Festivals that may create high curiosity and could thus attract VISItors.
AS the rural arts are thickly woven with such events, they also, get promoted in the process.
Ine tourists visiting North Gujarat could thus see the art of Patola weaving and the tourists to South Gujarat can witness jari weaving. This aspect must, therefore, receive more attention and due efforts must be made to make the best use of this tourist’s interest in the promotion of tourism as well as rural art & crafts.
6. Corporate tourism
In view of the hottest investment climate conducive business environment and safety security of the people, Gujarat offers significant Scope and stream for corporate tourism. We have the basic building blocks to secure a large flow of MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) traffic. It is requested that the Central Govt. should give a special grant for the development Or Convention center and an exhibition area. (Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat)
7. Taxation and power tariff:
Rationalization of the Luxury tax structure should be made by bringing it down to a minimal level so that the average cost to hotel users is reduced.
While the Govt. has accorded industry status to the tourism sector, it has not extended any competitive advantage in the rate of electricity tariff applicable to tourism. The sector needs to be brought at par with the industry in this matter at the earliest.
8. Infrastructure facilities for tourism
The provision of sound infrastructure facilities is a prerequisite for the rapid and sustained growth of tourism in Gujarat. Both central & state Govt. should play an active role in the promotion of these facilities so that accelerated development could be achieved in this direction.
- Upgradation and develOpment of both domestiC and International Airport at Ahmedabad with ultramodern facilities.
- Improving air connectivity to destinations within Gujarat e.g. encouraging private airlines between (Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Bhuj, Junagadh, Surat, Baroda, etc.)
- Upgradation and maintenance of State Highways.
- Upgradation and maintenance of Railway Stations.
- Preservation and beautification of beaches, monuments, and places of pilgrimage.
- Hotel accommodation facilities also need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of projected tourists. The growth projections warrant an additional 16,000 hotel rooms. Private investment in tourist specific facilities of the order of Hs.1500 crores is required by 2002 AD.
- In view of the long Coastline and number of ports, it is essential to attract foreign passengers to Porbandar and other ports and from there foreign tourists can be taken around Gujarat in luxury buses and accommodated in good hotels. Aggressive marketing needs to be done in collaboration with travel agents and shipping lines. This will provide a tremendous boost to employment and business activities.
- The govt. should ensure the availability of land tor the development of hotels, resorts, theatres, and entertainment complex, and building regulations are simplified and rationalized and expedited.
There are a number of state Govt owned tourism properties which have become non – performing assets for a variety of reasons. Most of these are at prime locations. The State should divert its holding from these and hand them over to private enterprise. This would improve their management and marketing. The State Government would get compensation that can be kept separately for developing the priority sector within tourism.
Most of these properties require to be modernized with up-to-date interiors so that tourists both domestic and foreign are encouraged to come and stay there. Since this would require huge funds it is highly essential that finance at a concessional rate be made available by Central State Govt. to private entrepreneurs.
It would also be advisable to utilize the Currently held open land of the TCGL for the development of smaller projects like highway hotels, restaurants, amusement arcades, etc. by involving private enterprise right at the beginning even before the design stage so that the facility is created in a manner which would be commercially viable. (Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat
10. Policy for heritage hotels
The heritage hotels have a strategic significance to the growth of tourism in Gujarat. The heritage property owners have been advocating a special package of financial incentives. TCGL had undertaken a survey & submitted a report to Govt. indicating properties that need quick commercialization around tourist destinations. However, it is underst0od that proposals are pending with Govt. for funds. It is essential that Govt. of India should provide funds for the development of this sector by way of grant or at a concessional rate so that private entrepreneurs can go ahead in this direction.
11. Rural tourism
The concept of rural tourism has gained prominence in West Africa & cOuntries in South East Asia. However, this concept has not attracted due attention in our country due to a lack of interest & funds. There are lot many religious, historical, pilgrimage destinations in the country SIde where resorts could be developed & people can spend weekdays or vacations, etc. with family. They should be well equipped&within budget of the masses. An integrated plan for the development of rural tourism needs to be worked with focused locations as the development of tourism areas major players may be attracted to develop these areas with necessary infrastructural& financial assistance by the Central & State Govt.
A new travel circuit is promoted linking important centers either by bus or rail so as to provide a much-needed boost to tourism. (Development Plan For Tourism In Gujarat)
12. Central financial assistance
(a) The objective of the equity funding scheme of GOl will be better served if the State Govt. is enabled to provide equity support to tourism projects on the utmost priority for the promotion of tourism in the state. The policy needs revision & insistence for investment by the State to be deleted.
(b) In view of the development of man-made tourism attractions viz. amusement parks, water parks, multiplexes & health spas, it is highly essential that interest subsidy incentives offered by GOI be not confined to hotels but be extended to non-accommodation projects also. Besides the power in this direction be delegated by the Centre to the State financial institutions as far as possible.
(c) The emerging tourist destinations need to be put on a preferential footing & hence deserve a higher subsidy.
13. Liquor shops at approved hotels
The inconvenience to foreign tourists& NRI Gujarati tourists in terms of procuring liquor hinder growth. With the parameters of the present prohibition policy, it is proposed that the Govt. should permit a liquor shop within 3 stars & above standard hotels with adequate safeguards to check misuse.
14. HRD & Training
In view of the tremendous growth & development of the tourism world over as also in India, this sector needs to be promoted among the young generation as a worthwhile & honorable career option.
The Central& State Govt. should make a direct investment in providing world-class institute training facility either on its own or in collaboration with private partners. Besides craft courses & training facilities be introduced at the regional level.
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