Nihal Chand Goel, Additional Chief Secretary (Tourism, Art & Culture) Tourism Department, Government of Rajasthan speaks about the tourism roadmap for the state.
Being one of the sunshine states in India, Rajasthan has always gained attention of the global traveller. With new marketing strategies and campaigns like “Jane Kya Dikh Jaye”, the state is now witnessing a rise in domestic travellers who are looking for lesser known destinations and unique experiences.
1. How was the tourism footfall to Rajasthan in first half of 2017? What kind of growth did you witness?
In response to our on-going efforts under the dynamic leadership of our Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Ji to make Rajasthan one of the most favoured destinations of choice for tourists around the world, the state has witnessed a growth of 9.25% in in-bound tourists this year over last year. In terms of footfalls, the state has attracted 2.77 crore tourists from January 2017 till August 2017 as against 2.53 crore for the corresponding period in 2016.
2. What is your road map for the tourism sector of the state in the coming years?
In our bid to make Rajasthan a favoured destination for domestic and international travellers, the government in recently has increased the tourism budgets. As a consequence of making initiatives, Rajasthan has intense growth and forged ahead to be ranked among the top tourist destinations in India. Recently announced National Tourism Awards was given to Rajasthan for the overall development of tourism in the state under “Best State – Comprehensive Development of Tourism” category. Our roadmap for continued rise in tourist footfall includes improving intra-state air connectivity to ensure that all our tourist spots are well connected by inter-state and intra-state, collaborate with influencers, celebrities and media to promote the lesser known destinations and experiences through our marketing programs and work closely with our trade partners.
PR outreach for film shootings in Rajasthan has been made easier by issuing time-bound permissions, Commissioner Tourism has been appointed as the Nodal officer. All charges, application fee and security deposits have been waived off by the Tourism Department.
3. Have you witnessed any new trend in the tourism pattern to Rajasthan? Which are the new destinations that you will be promoting this year?
With launch of new media campaign “Jane Kya Dikh Jaye” many more domestic tourists are coming to Rajasthan to explore the lesser known destinations and experiences such as Garadia Mahadev Temple in Kota, Khumbhalgarh or Rajsamand that we have to offer. We’ve seen increase and it’s also visible, at our music and cultural festivals like the Pushkar Fair, Magnetic Fields Music Fest, Jaipur Lit Fest, Jodhpur Riff Festival, Udaipur World Music Festival.
The new destinations which are being promoted and highlighted are Neelkanth in Alwar, WAX Museum Udaipur, Naval Mahal of Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur Shilpgram, Harsha Mata Temple, Chand Baori (Stepwell) - Abhaneri in Dausa, Jwahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, WAX Museum Jaipur, Rajmandir Cinema Hall in Jaipur and lesser known destinations in Rajasthan circuits like Shekhawati (Jhunjunu-Churu-Sikar) as well as Hadoti (Bundi-Kota-Jhalawar) etc.
4. How has the Pushkar Mela grown over the years? Also has this festival been able to successfully generate revenue and employment for the local community?
Pushkar Mela is meticulously planned and organised by Rajasthan Tourism and local Administration every year in partnership with the industry, for celebrating traditional cattle Fair. Through the concerted efforts, Pushkar Mela has emerged as one of the largest fairs of not only the state, but also the country. From 3.5 lakh domestic visitors in 2010, the fair attracted over five lakh domestic visitors in 2015-16. Correspondingly the number of foreign tourists increased from nearly six thousand to 12 thousand. This year, we are expecting an increase of 10 per cent on account of sustained marketing efforts and targeting through international and domestic travel marts.
Over the last two years we have also seen growing popularity for the fair among domestic tourists who come to enjoy the cultural activities. We have invested more than Rs four crore towards our infrastructure of Pushkar over the last two years. Employability of local people has definitely increased owing to the Mela. All on-ground support for the Mela is provided by the local communities. In addition we also see a rise in employment in the hospitality sector within the region to cater to the incoming tourists. Folk artists and artisans also benefit from the fair.