Religious, medical, now Gujarat showcases election tourism too

One has heard of religious tourism and medical tourism, the Gujarat Tourism Development Society has introduced Election Tourism for visitors who would visit the state during the next two months.

Manish Sharma, chairman of the Gujarat Tourism Development Society, said , “This idea cropped up when I visited Mexico in 2005 where poll tourism was being discussed. I thought of trying it in Gujarat. When this idea was mooted at the World Travel Market in London in November where some 100 tour operators and tourism boards took part, the response from them came as an encouragement.”

The state has always aggressively promoted itself through campaigns and even brought veteran actor Amitabh Bachan for one such event.  With this innovative move, which tries to show the elections, described as the biggest democratic exercise in the world, tour operators are hoping to draw in more crowds. Manish Sharma said the concept was introduced on an experimental basis during the 2012 Assembly elections.

“It was a great success, people enjoyed it and appreciated it,” he said. He said with this year’s general elections being touted as one of the high-voltage elections, it would be an unique experience for the visitors. He said the places identified this year include Rajkot, Patan, Porbander and Somnath.

“In the election tour, the visitors are taken to rallies conducted by the candidates in rural areas, they are taken to public rallies addressed by the local candidate and if, on the given day, there are visits by national leaders, they are taken  for such rallies as well,’’ said Sharma.

He said, if possible, the visitors are also given a chance to talk to the candidates and understand their system of campaign and election issues.

“This time, we have also tied up with other tour operators from other parts of the country who are conducting election tourism in Varanasi, Goa and Kerala due to the political importance of these places,” said Sharma.

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