Tamil Nadu government has unveiled its new tourism policy to develop the State into the most attractive experiential destination in Asia with multi-pronged goals. Over the next five years, the state aims to attract ₹20,000-crore investments and to facilitate the skill development of 3 lakh people.

In the next five years, the State expects tourism to contribute at least 12 per cent of the State GSDP annually and tourism and supporting industries in the State to employ 25 lakh people.

The Tamil Nadu Tourism Policy 2023, which was released by Chief Minister M K Stalin, states that the government will ensure that all anchor tourism sites in Tamil Nadu are technologically equipped for enhanced tourist safety and convenience. Also, it plans virtual tourist information centres across all anchor tourism sites in Tamil Nadu.

12 different themes

Overall, the department plans to concentrate its efforts on 12 different themes. They include adventure, recreation, caravan, rural and plantation, coastal, cultural, medical and wellness, religious, eco, MICE, heritage and firm tourism.

As part of theme park tourism, The State Tourism Department envisages creating one large-format Amusement Park, similar to global theme parks like Disney and Universal Studios, with an area of at least 100 acres on the outskirts of Chennai. The amusement park shall be developed through private sector participation.

In the near term, cities like Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Coimbatore and Kanniyakumari will be developed as gateway hubs and the State Tourism Department may notify more cities/towns as gateway hubs. “An allocation of 5 per cent from the Smart City funds will be dedicated to enhancing tourism infrastructure in primary Gateway Hubs,” it said.

The State is endowed with rich natural and cultural attractions, ranging from its temples and heritage sites to hill stations, waterfalls, and national parks. Conceptual master plans for about 300 tourism sites across Tamil Nadu have been prepared and approved by the Department covering culture and heritage sites, hills and hill stations, nature trails, coastal sites and temples. Out of these, sites will be taken up for development in a phased manner.

Improving connectivity

While the State government will work towards improving the connectivity of remote locations that are not well connected via road or rail infrastructure, significant physical infrastructural improvements such as walkways, ramps, elevators, and accessible toilets will be made at all major tourist spots to ensure their accessibility for differently-abled individuals.

Wayside amenities shall be developed, through the public-private Partnership (PPP) model, every 50-60 km across the State/ National highways to facilitate comfortable and convenient transit of visitors from one part of the state to the other.

The government plans to provide incentives such as capital subsidy, interest subvention, payroll, and quality certification, to support enterprises and projects to encourage the growth of tourism-related businesses and initiatives under three categories.

Tourism projects

Tourism projects such as amusement parks/theme parks, heritage hotels, experiential resorts, eco-hut / camp / tented accommodations, wellness resorts, oceanarium/aquariums, golf courses, plantation/ farm tourism projects, museums, adventure, cruise, and caravan tourism projects and ropeways will be eligible for Single Window clearance.

The State Tourism Department plans to launch cruise facilities on various stretches on the Chennai – Rameswaram – Kanniyakumari and Chennai – Port Blair route. Jetty infrastructure will be developed at these places. Private cruise operators shall be encouraged to start cruise services on these stretches.