Destination-oriented tourism parks on the anvil

The tourism parks will be developed on theme park model with all facilities including hotels, convention centres, shopping complex, food street and entertainment facilities required for tourists.

"We have tourist sites but we do not have anything to hold tourists at a particular site for two/three days. The question is how to hold tourists for a longer period," Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai told PTI.

Noting that there is no interesting evening activity near tourist sites, Sahai said, "If you want to have a glimpse of India then you can't. In Delhi there is a light and sound show at Red Fort. There is nothing except that".

"So we want to create tourism parks to hold tourists for longer period. The parks have to be developed on a business model. It would be destination oriented tourism park which will have a theme park, amusement park, convention centres, wellness centre, shopping complex etc. everything along with the destination."

The tourism park is likely to be developed through public-private participation (PPP) mode with the land being provided by the state government or a private partner.

Sahai said the tourism industry has a high employment generating capacity.

"According to the Planning Commission, if you spend Rs 10 lakh on a site then you are creating job opportunities for 80 people directly or indirectly," he said, adding, "If we can increase only .5 per cent of inbound tourists then it would create three crore job opportunities."

Tourism Ministry is seeking an increase in fund allocation for the sector in 12th Five-Year Plan. The fund allocation for the sector was Rs 5000 crore in the 11th Plan.

"We are seeking about Rs 22,000-23,000 crore allocation from the Planning Commission in the 12th Plan for developing 50 more tourist destinations on a mission mode like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) projects," Sahai said.

Emphasising the state government's role in promoting tourism, he said, "I am approaching every state to make tourism an economic and political agenda. States can adopt PPP mode to promote tourism and we are ready to provide infrastructure support."

Tourism Ministry also wants to introduce tourist trains in every state. "We want to introduce tourist trains in every state. We are trying to create new circuits like Buddhist circuit, Sufi circuit, Jain circuit, Sikh circuit, these are areas which can attract foreign as well as domestic tourists".

Admitting lack of infrastructure in tourism sector, Sahai said, "Infrastructure is a big issue. So we want to develop more tourism sites".

Suggesting revenue sharing model in construction of hotels at tourist destinations, he said, "There is huge requirement of hotel rooms in the country. About five lakhs more rooms are needed. There is also the need for more budget hotels. Revenue sharing model can be worked out for hotels by the state governments. "

In order to popularise destinations and facilitate the tourists, Tourism Ministry wants to launch Incredible India card. "We want to launch Incredible India card which will have all information about tourist destinations. Anybody can get information on tourism destinations, package and other related information on tourism."

Ruling out further privatisation of ITDC hotels, the Tourism Minister said, "No plan to privatise ITDC hotels. But in many hotels, space has been rented out to different offices."

Giving an instance, he said, "In Janpath, the ITDC hotel has become an office complex. So the Planning Commission has suggested private participation in hotels. Discussions are on with some leading hotel chains for outsourcing management of some hotels."

On religious tourism, he said, "The sector has great potential. We have Tirupati, Vaishnodevi and other religious places which attract tourists in good numbers. We want to create and promote more religious tourist destinations."

On Kashmir, he said laser shows and cultural programmes are being planned in the Valley to attract more tourists.

About the problem of getting permits for those visiting Arunachal, he said, "We are launching an aggressive campaign to promote tourism in the North-East including Arunachal. We have brought the issue to the Prime Minister's notice. We are working with MEA and Home Ministry to sort out the issues."

The Ministry is also planning to open more India Tourism offices abroad.
"Currently we have 14 India Tourism offices, we want to add 20 more representative offices abroad," he said.

About the plan to extend Visa on Arrival (VoA) scheme to more countries, Sahai said, "We are proposing to include CIS countries in the VoA scheme."

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