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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2002

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Chhattisgarh identifies land for tourism promo

Ashwini Phadnis

NEW DELHI, Nov. 11

IN an effort to create more infrastructure facilities for tourists, the Chhattisgarh State has identified 75 acres of land close to the forest for development by the private sector.

"The State has identified the land and this will be leased to potential investors. Several leading developers have already shown interest," the Managing Director of the State Tourism Board, Dr A. Jayathilak, told Business Line.

The land is on the fringes of the forest as the law prohibits development work in the forest, officials said. The State Government is said to be interested in following the time-share basis for the property as this is likely to ensure tourist arrivals throughout the year.

Though keen to attract more tourists, the State Government is clear that it would not encourage international air charter operators.

"Allowing international air charters does not add value to the destination. Besides, once the State is branded as a charter destination, it is difficult to get out of that image," officials said.

Meanwhile, the young State is in the process of setting in motion procedures like asking foreigners staying for more than a stipulated period to register with the authorities to help it know exactly how many foreign tourists visit Chhattisgarh annually.

The State is said to have attracted around 10,000 foreign visitors last year although most of the foreigners were investors wishing to explore investment possibilities in diverse sectors such as power and steel, officials said.

As regards domestic tourists, Chhattisgarh is hoping that with a number of trains passing through the State from different parts of the country, tourists wanting to visit should not have a problem. Besides, the recent `Bastar festival' has helped put the State "overnight" on the tourist map.

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