BMC likely to have a tourism department
To get more tourists to the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is likely to set up a department of tourism which will coordinate with the state tourism ministry on various initiatives.
The BMC is also likely to allot a dedicated fund for tourism development. The fund is likely to give a boost to the civic body’s existing projects such as restoration and beautification of heritage precincts, beautification of beaches, upgrade and expansion of Byculla Zoo and a cycle track along the Tansa pipeline. A senior civic officer confirmed, “Talks are going on, and it needs some more consideration.” The civic tourism department will be given as an additional charge to an existing top-level civic officer, such as a deputy municipal commissioner, a senior civic officer confirmed. The plan on how to take it forward could find a mention in the upcoming BMC budget, to be presented before the standing committee in the first week of February.
The move comes as Maharashtra tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray is focusing on tourism development. Thackeray said, “I have been in talks with municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, and we are keen to start a department of tourism for the BMC. The state will, of course, be working jointly [with the civic body]”.
Pardeshi chose not to comment on the issue.
In tandem with the state government, the BMC recently took several decisions to boost tourism such as facilitating the implementation of the Maharashtra government’s earlier decision to allow certain malls and eateries to remain open 24x7, making open spaces and gardens tourist-friendly, launching the concept of urban squares at public places to create centres for art, music and public interaction, and development of Fort area in South Mumbai.
A senior civic officer said, “These are ways to increase the appeal of the city among tourists. Over the past two-three years, the BMC has taken up many such projects.”
As part of this plan to boost tourism, the BMC is likely to open the doors of its headquarters at Fort to tourists on Saturday and Sunday and organise guided tours of the heritage building. Thackeray said, “I want people who come to Mumbai to stay for at least four days and explore its beauty. The BMC has done a lot already, such as constructing the viewing gallery at Dhobi Ghat. So many works and properties of BMC can be opened up for tourists.”
Sulakshana Mahajan, a senior urban planner, said, “It is a good idea. The city needs a different set-up for governance. It should not need the permission of the chief minister for every small step. It will also ensure the sites are maintained as well…The city is not at all tourist-friendly, for example, when it comes to public transport or traffic. The BMC should focus on it.”