The tourism sector in Bihar suffered a jolt when the government decided to downsize its budget for next fiscal year to one-sixth of what it was last year.
Against an allocation of Rs 672.49 crore in 2016-17, the Bihar government pegged the tourism budget for 2017-18 at Rs 109.87 crore - down by 84%.
This despite the fact that tourism has been identified among 10 priority sectors of the government under its Industrial Investment Promotion Policy, 2016.
Interestingly, Bihar’s Economic Survey 2016-17 had mentioned over 50% increase in domestic tourists between 2011 and 2015 and suggested a five-year roadmap to tap religious, historical and archaeological potential, besides developing 12 tourist circuits
The cut in budget is expected to hit government’s ambitious plan to upgrade its hotels and to develop some star category facilities in the state.
“The proposal of developing star hotels still exists, but is not in focus anymore,” said an official of the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC), requesting anonymity. For now, some BSTDC hotels have been leased out to private groups, he added.
Kaulesh Kumar, a tour operator, said BSTDC accommodations were still shabby.
“Rajgir is a heritage city, which receives lakhs of tourists every year, but it does not have a single government hotel available for tourists,” he said. While the Nalanda University have engaged Tathagat and Siddharth Vihar, Ajatshatru Vihar was being run by a private group, he said.
There is no government accommodation even at Nalanda, a Unesco World Heritage Site, as the BSTDC hotel has been handed over to a private group, he added.