The state is spending Rs 3000 crore for religious and spiritual tourism
Tourism in Tamil Nadu Is a growth engine that not only attracts the maximum number of tourist visits in the country, but also provides for a lot of employment and economic growth in the state. It is estimated that about 8 to 10% of the Tamil Nadu’s GDP comes from the tourism sector. Tourism in Tamil Nadu is centered primarily around heritage and religion. And this is driving the highest number of visits to the state, B. Chandra Mohan, Principal Secretary – Tourism, Govt. of Tamil Nadu whine inaugurating the SATTE GENX Connect last month in Chennai.
Speaking further, Chandra Mohan said that tourist attractions, safety and connectivity are the most important factors for a healthy tourism industry. “Tamil Nadu sports big on all the three elements: heritage, safety and connectivity and this has been the mainstay of the large number of tourists that have been coming to the state,” the Principal Secretary added.
Encouraged by the upsurge in tourist arrival numbers, Tamil Nadu is now working on two fronts. “First, enhance the experience of devotees who come for religious and spiritual tourism. Second, diversify the experience into other sectors. For the first time in 2021, the HR&CE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments) Department has taken up works worth Rs 1700 crores for improving and conserving temples and their infrastructure and also creating various facilities for devotees. The work is in progress,” he informed.
The state government is not stopping here and going ahead with other developmental programmes. “A lot more needs to be done and we are on that path. This year we have taken up another Rs 1300 crore worth of works. So, about Rs 3000 crore worth of works is being done in various temples of this state. Earlier, the Tourism Department used to get an annual allocation of Rs 10 crores for taking up works. Last year, the government has approved a scheme called ‘Destination Development Scheme’ and is provided something like Rs 160 crores for taking up various improvements in the state,” he informed.
And the funds are being properly utilized with implementation of various tourism related works. “We will be going through a massive makeover. Poompuhar, a cultural and heritage site, will be totally revamped into a cultural center. Adventure tourism is something we are encouraging in a big way. We have identified sites as demonstration sites and are going to establish adventure tourism sites in various parts of the state. We have also issued operators’ guidelines under which they have to register so that the tourists will not only have a good experience but will experience that in trained hands and in a very safe manner,” Chandra Mohan stated.
He said that there was a long-felt need for a process for registering bed and breakfast and homestays. ” This is also now being taken care of. We have issued the guidelines and we have also come up with an online system of application verification and certification. So, all these initiatives will support whatever activity that the tourism sector in this state requires to give further growth in tourism. We want tourism to go not only to specified destinations in the state, but also a very decentralized kind of a situation,” he said adding that one such example is Nilgiris. “It is a district that is endowed with lot of nature and wildlife. We are focusing on developing the entire Nilgiris as an import tourism district or an ecotourism destination. We will be promoting plantation tourism, wildlife, bird-watching, eco trails and every aspect of eco-tourism will be promoted in Nilgiris in a big way,” he added.
The state government has also come up with separate incentives for plantation tourism, be it tea, coffee, and rubber. “We are going to promote plantation tourism as a separate segment because its ecological footfall or footprint is low, and the benefits are high. These are some of the initiatives that the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department is taking up for increasing the average length of stay of tourists, attracting newer segments of customers and offer visitors to have a good experience in the state,” he concluded.