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Chhattisgarh Tourism Board adopts 360° approach to promote tourism

Santosh K. Misra, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) shares his strategy to make Chhattisgarh a numero uno tourism state in India

How has Chhattisgarh’s tourism fared in the first half of 2014?

During the first six months, tourism in Chhattisgarh has witnessed large number of footfalls. Until May, more than 1.2 crore domestic and 4,000 foreign tourists have visited the state. The total footfall in Chhattisgarh in 2013 was 2.2 crores, which we expect to raise to three crores this financial year.

What is your overall strategy to make Chhattisgarh a preferred destination in India?

The Board aims to promote state tourism on a greater scale and endeavours to put Chhattisgarh on the world map as one of the most preferred tourist destinations in India. The new tourism policies involve the greater participation of local communities.

In a bid to promote eco-tourism in the state, the Board is actively involved in promoting nature-based and culture-based tourism to provide a glimpse of the wildlife and rich tribal culture of Chhattisgarh. Eco-tourism in the state also includes ethnic tourism wherein a tourist can attend the dance functions, weddings and local festivals of the state.

How has the response to the Sirpur Festival been?

The response is immense and we are planning to promote Sirpur more aggressively than ever before. We are in the process of getting good artists from the cultural arena across the world. In addition, the Board aims to establish Sirpur as an important centre for Buddhists pilgrims. As far as the numbers are concerned, tourists are coming in larger quantities every year to attend the festival.

What is CTB’s marketing and promotional strategy for 2014?

This year we are planning to have roadshows in Banaras, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Delhi, Mumbai and other metro cities. We have also participated in leading global events such as the World Travel Mart, UK and ITB Berlin. In the international market, South and south East Asian markets are the main focus areas while on domestic front Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi are target markets.

CTB was also planning to develop water-based tourism. Is there any development on this front?

We have plans to develop Gangrel Dam, the largest water body in Chhattisgarh, as a mega destination for tourism. Chitrakote Waterfall is already being promoted as the ‘Niagara Falls’ of India and a variety of recreational activities have been created in the vicinity. Besides that, we are developing new infrastructure and Cave and River tourism packages to quench the thirst of tourists who are fond of water-based tourism and adventure.

What is the status of private investments in the state’s tourism and hospitality sectors?

Private players such as the Taj and Hyatt, and a few hotel chains from Central India, have started their operations in the state. The hospitality sector in Chhattisgarh is taking a giant leap. We are in talks with the private players and working on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model wherein we will open the door for private investment. The name will be divulged only after the final decision between the investors and the government is taken.

What strategy is in place to improve air connectivity to the state?

Air connectivity is already in good shape. Raipur Airport is the gateway to all destinations in Chhattisgarh, and is also connected by rail and road with major Indian cities. In addition, the aviation fuel is cheaper than other metros in India, which provides an added advantage to the airline companies. However to make the experience more enjoyable, we are in talk with the Aviation Ministry to increase the frequency of flights from metro and sub-metro cities.

What message would you like to give the industry regarding Chhattisgarh as a safe destination?

With 40 per cent forest area and 34 per cent tribal population, the state provides a wholesome experience of travelling and exploring new destinations, cultures and communities. Naxalism is operated in a small pocket of the state and do not harm the tourists and local people.

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