Friday, February 3, 2017

Maharashtra a strong contender for special tourism zone

2 February 2017

PUNE: Senior tourism ministry officials hinted that either Maharashtra or Goa may be chosen as a special tourism zone in western India. This was in reaction to finance minister Arun Jaitley's announcement in the Union Budget that the government planned to set up five special tourism zones in the country in the next financial year.

Officials said that only one state from the west may be chosen for the zone in the western part of the country.Senior officials in the state department of tourism are also planning to pitch Maharashtra to the ministry.

A senior ministry official told that Maharashtra's chances as a contender for the zone in the west seem bright. "Though the creation of the five special tourism zones is still in its nascent stages, the chosen state should have regional representation and be the strongest possible contender in tourism in the region. A major tourism destination in the western part of the country will be chosen, depending on its popularity among tourists, availability of land and other factors," the official said.

The western part of India has a competitive landscape with four states — Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan and Gujarat — doubling up as major tourism hotspots.Maharashtra tourism department officials told that past recommendations made to the ministry include how Maharashtra should be treated at par with Goa and should have similar policies on shacks on beaches and coastal regulation norms relaxation.

State director of tourism Satish Soni said, "Maharashtra is one of the few regions in the world which offers multiple types of tourist destinations. It has a long coastline of 720km along the lush green Konkan region. The Western Ghats and the Sahyadri mountain range offer hill stations and water reservoirs with semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. The Vidarbha region with its dense forests is home to several wildlife sanctuaries and nature parks."Soni said that apart from this, the state has five tiger reserves, Bollywood as well as five world heritage sites like Ajanta-Ellora caves, elephant caves, Kaas Plateau and the iconic Lonar crater made of basaltic rock. "For this reason, the state tourism department will pitch Maharashtra as the apt contender to the ministry," Soni said.


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