Brand Maharashtra is all set to get a major boost. The state tourism and cultural affairs department plans to set up a task force of experts to prepare and implement a master plan to give make the state tourist friendly by June 2011.
The proposed tourism plan will bring about greater participation of private players in tourism-related activities, improve infrastructure along important tourist destinations and maintain existing destinations.
“A 10-member committee consisting of experts like hotelier Vitthal Kamat, public relations expert Sanjit Shastri and government officials will work on formulating a plan to boost tourism and then on the modalities to facilitate its implementation. This plan will be ready by June 2011,” said minister of state for cultural affairs Sanjay Deotale.
The focus of the committee that was formed around October 2010 was to formulate marketing and publicity strategies to promote ‘brand Maharashtra’, creating infrastructure both at private and government level, including better roads, putting a one-window clearance system in place for hoteliers and developing more facilities to attract tourists.
The tourism master plan will focus on developing tourist hotspots in the state such as beaches, forest sanctuaries and tiger reserves, religious attractions, places of historical importance, hill stations and Bollywood, among many others.
The proposed plan will also be accompanied by a study of its impact on locals and how they will benefit from its implementation.
Deotale added that the state is planning to empanel professional agencies to develop infrastructures — paragliding, snorkeling, deep sea diving and sound and light shows at historical places — to attract tourists. The master plan will also focus on improving historical forts in the state linked to the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The state has set aside Rs20 crore towards a fort conservation programme in the current financial year.
“Out of the 228 forts in the state, 30 are being looked after by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and the remaining ones will be conserved by the state in a phase-wise programme,” Deotale said.
Avinash Dhakne, joint managing director of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and a member of the core group, said, “The plan will be looking at short, medium and long-term measures to be taken to get tourism on the forefront. It will have recommendations and implementation strategies, which the state cabinet will need to approve.”