Government of Maharashtra. implements policies to promote innovative tourism experiences
In the post-pandemic world where vaccines have become the silver lining, the tourism landscape has changed dramatically. As the wave of infection has subsided and travel restrictions are lifted, travelers are approaching the tourism spectrum differently and this has also impacted their choice of destinations.
India is poised to reopen its borders to overseas travelers amid a drop in COVID-19 infections. Various state governments across the country are also gearing up to attract post-pandemic travelers and Maharashtra is at the forefront of this movement to boost tourism in the state. India’s third largest and second most populous state is a quintessential traveller’s delight – whether it’s the range of architectural masterpieces that give you a glimpse into the rich historical past or the Pristine beaches bordering the Arabian Sea or the multitude of religious places or the breathtaking greenery and biodiversity of the Western Ghats – Maharashtra has an eclectic tourist scene.
As the tourism industry resuscitates from the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing realization that innovation is essential in the journey ahead. Aware of this, the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of Maharashtra advocates various policies to ensure the participation of different stakeholders to promote innovative tourism experiences. Here are some examples:
1. The Beach Shack policy: The Department of Tourism will issue special permits for the temporary construction of cabins, portable cabins, deck beds, umbrellas, etc. Construction must comply with environmental regulations to ensure that beach ecosystems are not damaged in any way. The policy will be implemented in Ratnagiri (Guhagar, Arevare), Sindhudurga (Kunkeshwar, Tarkali), Raigad (Varsoli, Diveagar), Palghar (Kelava and Bordi) and only ten beach huts will be allowed to be built on each beach. 80 percent of the jobs created in the beach huts will be reserved for locals and the license period is three years. In addition, it is mandatory for cabins to use biodegradable cutlery for food and drinks.
2. Agrotourism policy: Agritourism is a relatively nascent concept that involves travel to rural areas and has an educational component with experiences focused on agriculture. The government of Maharashtra has developed a policy that will harness agrotourism to catalyze the development of rural areas and generate more employment opportunities. According to the new policy, the state aims to generate an annual income of 10% from the tourism sector and contribute 15% of the revenue share of the tourism sector in the gross state income and the government is striving to exploit the potential of agrotourism to meet this target. Agrotourism centers will receive registration certificates from the tourism department, and the owners of these centers will also obtain loans on the basis of these certificates. These centers may also receive incentives and other benefits from other government programs.
3. Caravan tourism: Typical accommodation is in vogue in the post-pandemic tourism scenario. Travelers are willing to look beyond hotels, resorts, and traditional accommodation options, especially in remote areas where it can be difficult to find accommodation. To keep up with this change, the government of Maharashtra has formulated the policy of âcaravan tourismâ which foresees that the tourism department formulates strategies and stimulates activities related to caravans in the public and private sectors and on the basis of PPP. Caravan operators will benefit from incentives such as exemption from stamp duty and electricity duty, GST rebate. The Tourism Directorate will facilitate the parking of caravans and a no-objection certificate will also be issued to benefit from loans for caravans. The policy also emphasizes maintaining hybrid caravan parks that have caravan parking spaces aligned with recreation areas such as resorts, amusement parks, tent campsites, etc. .
4. One stop customs clearance policy: As part of this policy, the Ministry of Tourism has set up a common online application portal that will streamline the process of searching for licenses, authorizations for the establishment of a reception unit in the State. The goal is to condense the once cumbersome mechanism of hoteliers having to request permissions from multiple agencies into a hassle-free process in an online portal. This will reduce delays, improve the efficiency of processing requests, eliminate redundancies and duplication of information.
India’s tourism industry was and will continue to be an indispensable cog in the country’s economic development in the post-pandemic world. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism generated $ 194 billion or 6.8% of India’s GDP in 2019 and supported 39.80 million jobs, or 8% of its total employment. . However, the trajectory of the tourism sector after COVID will largely depend on how prepared and how quickly the industry can adapt to the variations in travel trends caused by the pandemic. At the same time, the sector will also need to adopt practices consistent with the ideals of sustainability. The policies formulated by the government of Maharashtra can serve as an example for other administrative bodies – both local and state level – for the renewed tourism scenario.