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Tuesday, Apr 08, 2003

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Rajasthan to repackage itself

Sankar Radhakrishnan


THE Rajasthan Tourism Department has embarked on a major drive to reposition and repackage the State as a tourist destination. Disclosing this to Business Line, Mr Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Departments of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, said the State is adopting a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this.

Establishing Rajasthan as a holiday destination in the minds of people in South East Asia is a major component of the State's new tourism strategy, said Mr Mayaram. The State will soon launch a promotional campaign targeted at travellers in this region and will also work with the tourism authorities in Singapore, Malaysia and China to make inroads into these countries, he added.

Over the next few months, the Rajasthan Tourism Department will also start increasing its focus on the domestic tourism market. "Now that direct rail links between the southern States and Rajasthan are in place, we will increase our focus on promoting Rajasthan in South India," Mr Mayaram said.

Rajasthan tourism already conducts roadshows in South India and will increase the frequency of these promotional events, he added. The Rajasthan Tourism Department is also exploring the possibility of working with the private sector to develop packages for tourists from South India, he declared.

With several sites of religious significance, Rajasthan is also being positioned as a pilgrimage destination. "We are beginning to look at promoting pilgrim travel and develop tourism packages that suit the special requirements of this segment," said Mr Mayaram.

The State Government is also making substantial investments in developing tourism related infrastructure, he said. The Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr Ashok Gehlot, has declared that all State Government departments should orient themselves towards the development of the tourism sector, Mr Mayaram said.

Under this initiative, the State Government has spent Rs 600 crore on developing Rajasthan's road network, he said. Similarly, the Government is spending some Rs 75 crore on the conservation of monuments in the State, he added.

In addition, a Rs 1,700 crore project to upgrade the infrastructure in six major cities of the State is underway with assistance from the Asian Development Bank, he said. A similar project will soon be unveiled for some of the other towns in the State, said Mr Mayaram.

Public-private partnership efforts to develop the tourism sector are also a vital aspect of Rajasthan's tourism strategy. As part of this initiative tourism infrastructure projects worth Rs 200 crore will soon be unveiled for private sector participation, Mr Mayaram pointed out.

Thrust on `rural tourism'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Offering visitors an opportunity to be a part of the `rural' Rajasthan experience, while ensuring that rural artisans and performers are not dislocated from their traditional homes is the objective of the State's `rural tourism' project. The proposal is to develop haats or village markets in each of Rajasthan's 32 district headquarters, said Mr Mayaram.

These haats will feature artisans and performers and will be developed around areas where artisans already practice their craft, he added. Besides ensuring the financial security of these people in a State were drought often strikes, the Rs 20-crore project will ensure that visitors actually experience daily life in a typical Rajasthani village, said Mr Mayaram. "This is the real thing and not theatre," he emphasised.

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