The Govt. of Gujarat is laying strong emphasis on promoting border tourism in the state. Seema Darshan project is being developed as a major border tourism spot at Nada Bet in Banaskantha district. The project is likely to be inaugurated by next month. This was deliberated by the Speakers during webinar under PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Border Tourism Webinar Series.
Delivering the keynote address, Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, said that India is an ancient nation and the young generation needs to know India’s history, culture and rich heritage. She suggested that PHDCCI can collaborate with the Association of Indian Universities that brings around 850 Universities and Colleges together with 3 crore students and host question banks with these students which will help to sensitize them about the lives of defence and paramilitary personnel. Once established, Border Tourism will create an economic engine for locals who are living in the villages close to border areas.
Jenu Devan, Managing Director, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd, appreciated the efforts taken by the Prime Minister in transforming Rann of Kutch. He also mentioned about the Seema Darshan project which was inaugurated in December 2016 at Nada Bet and soon after its launch started gaining traction with 4000-5000 visitors during weekend.
The tourism department is now trying to promote Nada Bet on the lines of Wagah Border with not only a retreat ceremony, but also creating a 2-3 hours tour package for that entire area which will include a Tourist Facilitation Centre, Auditorium, Museum and other amenities. Electric vehicles will be introduced that will take the tourists around the 25 km border area up to zero point where they will be allowed to take selfies.
He further mentioned that training modules will be introduced in the border areas to help the villagers turn into tour guides for facilitating tourists while creating employment opportunities for them.
Avinash Mishra, Adviser – Tourism, NITI Aayog, spoke in length about the importance of tourism sector and its contribution towards GDP. He mentioned that with its diverse culture and architectural heritage, India has the potential to become one of the world’s premium tourist destinations. We need to showcase our rich tourism potential which will help to increase the economic exchange of the country on a long-term basis.
Sharing details on the Border Tourism development in Gujarat, Eapen PV, Deputy Inspector General – Frontier Gujarat, Border Security Force (BSF), informed that the Seema Darshan project is being developed by Gujarat Tourism, Roads & Buildings Department & BSF and is likely to be inaugurated by next month. He further said that major attractions at the spot will include Ajay Prahari Memorial, Parade Ground, Exhibition Centre, Museum, resting place for visitors and specially designed Gates depicting the theme of border security.
Eapen pointed out that Border Tourism will transform the security scenario in the country. Need of the hour is to improve connectivity and infrastructure at the border areas for better facilitation of tourists.
Paras Lakhia, Managing Committee Member & Chairman – Airline Council, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), said that Border Tourism is a vertical that creates thrill and excitement and this segment has immense potential to create employment opportunities as well. Interesting itineraries can be made for the tourists that can generate business and revenue in these difficult times while promoting Domestic Tourism in the country.
Sandipan Bose, General Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Ahmedabad, highlighted the tourist attractions in Rann of Kutch and elaborated how Rann Utsav helps to increase local employment, promote cultural and entertainment activities leading to the overall creation of opportunities for local people.
Highlighting the issues faced by the tourists while visiting the border areas at Kutch district, Pravin V. Dangera, Proprietor, Kutch Expeditions & Approved Tourist Guide at Bhuj- Kutch, said that getting permission to visit East Kutch and West Kutch is a major challenge and the tourist has to visit three offices in order to get the permission. He requested the government to come up with Inner Line Permits (ILPs) like North Eastern States and Ladakh for smooth access to these locations.
Anil Parashar, Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, congratulated the Ministry of Tourism and Gujarat Tourism as Dholavira, the Harappan City in the Rann of Kutch, Gujarat has been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. There has been an increase in number of tourists substantially after the Statue of Unity opened for visitors. I am hopeful that the ongoing Seema Darshan project at Nada Bet will give further impetus to the tourism sector in Gujarat and also help in promoting Border Tourism in the state, he said.
Rajan Sehgal, Co-Chairman – Tourism Committee, PHDCCI, proposed the formal vote of thanks. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director, PHDCCI, and received participation from senior government officials, travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, tour guides, airline professionals, travel associations, and students from the travel and hospitality institutes.