From agro to sustainable tourism… Here’s how Maharashtra is reinventing the idea of ​​tourism amid the Covid-19 pandemic

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Maharashtra, the third largest and second most populous state in India, is one of the most attractive destinations for tourists across India. Not only is it known for being home to all the celebrities and business moguls, but also for scenic beauty, water features, women’s safety, and its inclusive culture that welcomes people from all parts of the country and makes them feel at home. And to continue providing the best experience to tourists and residents of the state, the government of Maharashtra spares no effort to push policies that enhance the growth of the tourism sector in the state.

If you live in Mumbai, you will often spot Maharashtra’s Minister of Tourism, Aaditya Thackeray, on the streets. The descendant of Shiv Sena worked tirelessly with a concrete plan to improve the appearance of the city. With several beautification projects, leading the Brinhanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – touted as Asia’s wealthiest civic body, with a budget of Rs 39,000 crore for 2021-22 – to implement his ideas.

Aditya has often been quoted as saying that the tourism industry will act as a sponge to absorb the greatest number of jobs and generate revenue for the state in the post-Covid world. There is no doubt that the tourism landscape changed dramatically after the introduction of vaccines. More and more travelers approach tourism differently and choose their safe places without restrictions. Governments, on the other hand, are trying to attract foreign travelers amid a drop in COVID-19 infections in India and Maharashtra is at the forefront of this move to boost tourism in the state. .

Shortly after taking over in November 2019, Aaditya launched a project called South Mumbai Heritage Walk, to encourage tourists to visit heritage structures. Over the years, for the first time, it opened the doors of the iconic BMC and High Court buildings to tourists. Apparently, the usual two to three days in Mumbai have turned into a three to four day vacation in the city – thanks to the wide range of sights and tourist activities. Additionally, the state is also attracting people for work-from-home opportunities. Places like Karjat, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and even Konkan have become favorites for people working from home and they are extending their stay by five to six weeks.

Priority to sustainable tourism

To make the state an attractive tourist destination for all age groups, the government of Maharashtra has developed different tourist circuits like Fort Circuit, Buddhism Circuit, Bhakti Circuit complementing popular destinations like Shirdi, Siddhivinayak, three and a half Shaktipeeths and Pandarpur, Ashtavinayak and Shegaon. “I can say that we have a very optimistic and futuristic atmosphere to invest in Maharashtra as well as to visit Maharashtra,” Milind Borikar, Director of Tourism Directorate (DoT), Maharashtra Tourism, said in his statement and added that the government is working on an environmentally friendly policy that talks about deploying cleaner energy sources like solar power, wind power and electric vehicles. “Wherever we go as tourists, we witness the deterioration of our environment which is most dangerous for our future generations,” he added.

On the other hand, considering a wide variety of destinations to attract domestic and international tourists, which will boost the economy and employment, the government said that the state needs more tourist spots. The government has also expressed a desire to develop flower tourism on Kaas Pathar in Satara like the Tulip Garden in Amsterdam. And in view of the time due to the pandemic, the department has come up with several policies and also facilitated the permission granting processes. Officials say the forestry sector is also picking up and people want to get out into nature and explore. “Caravan tourism has resumed. Agritourism is doing well in Maharashtra as we have seen in Tuscany. Vineyards in Nashik, strawberry farms in Mahabaleshwar, mango farms in Konkan, just staying at a farm is an experience as they are safe and in nature as opposed to the crowds in a hotel. The concept of agritourism is catching on like wildfire. Wherever we have space and where farmers can expand their homes, agritourism thrives,” Thackeray added in his statement.

Rationalization of adventure tourism

Maharashtra is the fifth largest state in the country in terms of running multiple adventure tours so invariably; the state should be on top with its policies to stimulate safe adventure activities. Therefore, the state stimulates activities like mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, mountain biking, cycling, canoeing, scuba diving, rafting, kayaking, zip line, paragliding , hiking, exploring, canyoning, sandboarding, caving and rock climbing. boost tourism in the state.

As the state offers several opportunities for water sports and hiking, modern amenities have been introduced to the Sinhagad property of the MTDC. In addition, the government has also partnered with the Maharashtra State Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Pune, for skills development training for MTDC staff. “These initiatives are aimed at promoting Maharashtra as the most sought-after tourist destination and promoting its unique cultural identity to the world,” Aaditya Thackeray said in his statement. “There were no rules related to adventure tourism and accidents also happened. The policy is an attempt to streamline activities by covering the three mediums of adventure tourism – land, water and air. It will cover all tour operators who organize adventure tourism. This means that they will have to follow all the rules while organizing adventure tourism tours for amateurs and tourists,” Aaditya added in his statement.

The minister also added that the priority of the state government is to save people’s lives. “We want to encourage adventure tourism and send them the message that it is safe for them. We want Maharashtra to lead in tourism once the Covid pandemic is over,” he said.

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Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 07:00 IST

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