Over the last 10 years Madhya Pradesh has forged ahead in many areas, but stood out especially in the field of tourism, a fact that bears testimony to the good governance of Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government.
The beginning of this rise can be traced to mid-2006 when there was a rapid turnaround in the fortunes of the state-run tourism development corporation. A new headquarters of the corporation was built and inaugurated in August 2006 by the chief minister and thereafter came Hotel Palash.
The next few years witnessed frantic renovation of each and every property of the corporation. Hotels and restaurants attached with the corporation gradually emerged as one of the finest.
Profit too continued to rise, so much so that the cumulative losses were ultimately wiped off by 2012-13. Soon the corporation stood out as an example of corporate excellence in India.
The improvement was also a result of one of the most amazing turnarounds-the wayside amenities or ‘Dhabas’. The corporation achieved such standardisation in quality that a world record with 24 ISO certifications was achieved in May this year.
During this period many of the hotels also achieved 3-star and heritage classification from the ministry of tourism, Govt of India--a feat unheard of amongst the state tourism departments in the country.
The corporation also spread its wings in ushering in innovative tourism projects, like the Bhopal Express, world’s first broad gauge rail coach restaurant.
Cruises in various water bodies of the state along with boat clubs, resorts and restaurants gave a new dimension to tourism in the state. Sair Sapata in Bhopal is one of the finest in-city picnic spots of the country that is accessible by a suspension bridge, next only to the Laxman Setu in Haridwar.
The publicity campaigns launched simultaneously by the tourism department also clicked with the masses. ‘Til Dekho Taad Dekho’ - the first TV campaign created a buzz for the state cutting across state and national boundaries.
This was followed by three highly creative campaigns that almost created an advertising revolution in the country. The famous “Mamaji” radio campaign became one of the most talked about events of the country.
These promotional campaigns, supported by hard core infrastructural improvements, resulted in massive surge in tourist footfall and recognition for a highly focussed and efficient utilisation of funds for development of tourist infrastructure.
The state was awarded the National Tourism Award for being the best state in tourism in 2008. The spate continued with the state bagging six national awards in 2015-all under the inspirational leadership of Chouhan.
(The writer is former managing director MP Tourism Corporation. He is currently CMD, Air India)