Tourism and culture minister Surendra Patwa on Wednesday admitted that losing the tag of 'tiger state' did affect Madhya Pradesh's tourism sector to some extent. He said the government is making efforts to reclaim the tag.
Patwa said this while presenting the report card of his departments for the last one year. Madhya Pradesh, which was known as the 'tiger state', with maximum numbers of striped cats, lost the tag to Karnataka in 2010 wildlife census conducted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
Stating that Madhya Pradesh ranks sixth in the country when it comes to tourist influx, Patwa said efforts are being made to improve the ranking. "Compared to previous year, there has been an increase of over 18% in the tourist influx in the state this year," he said.
The minister said he is not satisfied with the profit margin of the tourism department, though there has been a significant increase in the overall turnover compared to six years ago. "We have increased our efforts to maximize our profits," he said.
When questioned about why the state government doesn't deploy tourist police at tourist spots for security of the visitors, Patwa said it was not possible to deploy police at all tourist spots. "But we have started a helpline for tourists, through which they can approach us whenever they need us," he said.
According to the minister, amendments have been made in tourism and land disposal policies to promote tourism in the state. He said the exemption had been given from luxury tax in the new policy.
"Now, the luxury tax will not be imposed now on rooms up to Rs 3000 rent," he said. Patwa said there is an immense potential of religious, forest and water bodies' tourism in the state. He informed that 6.34 crore domestic tourists and 2.8 lakh foreign tourists visited Madhya Pradesh in 2013.
The minister said efforts are underway to enhance air connectivity in the state and talks were going on with Centre in this regard. He said during the last three years, Air Ventura air taxi service has been used by 20,000 passengers.
Patwa informed that as many as 16 tourism zones have been constituted in the state and a number of facilities were being given for investments in these tourist zones. "Air-conditioned bus service has also been started under public-private partnership (PPP) mode," he said.