Murari Mohan Jha
Rajasthan Tourism has adopted multipronged approach to take the tourism on a newer height. The State tourism has taken many policy initiatives to promote all segments of tourism to drive the tourist numbers. Rajasthan government has come out with film tourism policy, new tourism unit policy, homestays policy, homestay schemes and working on rural tourism policy, adventure guidelines amongst others to give a flip to the tourism.
Talking about the idea behind the rural tourism policy, Gayatri Rathore, Principal Secretary (Tourism), Govt. of Rajasthan, said: “Basically, we want to take tourists to experience the countryside of Rajasthan, which is very rich culturally, heritage wise and giving a glimpse of the rural life. In post COVID scenario, tourists coming to the state want to have a different feel of Rajasthan, especially the repeat tourists. So, now we offer the feeling of desert life, wildlife tourism, adventure, and ecotourism amongst other.” Our policy encourages to people to set up more and more eco-friendly units with a local flair and all, she added.
To make it more lucrative, Rathore said that the state government is are trying to do away with all permissions relaxations. “We are taking the policy to the cabinet so that anyone who has a small project of 6-15-20 rooms can declare it as a rural tourism unit and avail a lot of benefits from the government. We have also initiated paying guesthouse scheme. The Department of Tourism will give its registration so that tourists get faith and then they are also able to tie up with Oyo, airbnb and all those kinds of platforms so that tourists can book directly through them. It will help both tourism and the local people. We are also trying to bring farm tourism, orchard tourism, caravan tourism, all part of it,” she informed.
For the larger units, the government is offering good incentives under Rajasthan Industrial Promotion Scheme under which tourism is declared as a ‘thrust sector’.
On the adventure tourism front, Rathore said that the state has a lot of water bodies, mountains, desert and eco trails. “There is a lot of scope for adventure sports, adventure tourism. We need to put them into guidelines, framework so that the operator who is coming and investing is aware of the parameters. Because safety and security is equally important as the experience of the tourists. Keeping this in mind, we have a lot of possibility of developing good trails. We are approaching investors to come and set up paragliding, parasailing, seaplanes, river cruise, desert safari, trekking trails,” she said adding that hot air ballooning and ziplining have become mundane but desert trails, desert safari trails or food trails, trekking trails will be very exciting.
She said that the government has earmarked Rs 1000 crore for the tourism sector as well as the industry status. 60% of the fund will be utilized for tourism infrastructure development and 40% will be on the branding and marketing of the state in domestic and overseas market. The announcement of industry status has brought a lot positivity and buoyancy to the tourism and hospitality sector as this will attract private investment to the state, she said.
She said that currently tourism and associated activities contribute 14% of the state gross domestic product and we have this ambition of taking it to 20%. Presently we have 5 crores 48 lakhs tourists coming annually. We intend to double the number of domestic and international tourists in the next 5 years, she said.
Rajasthan firing on all cylinders for tourism growth
Murari Mohan Jha