By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, September 18 (IANS): As tourists return to Rajasthan, bringing smiles to the faces of several stakeholders hit hard by the pandemic in the last two years, the state tourism department also seems to be scripting a success story by taking innovative steps and turning challenges into opportunities in a short span from time to time.
State tourism has projected the desert state as a monsoon destination, brought industry status to the travel trade, announced night tourism in Rajasthan and unveiled an attractive film tourism policy that was expected for years.
And it started to pay off.
People from all over the world are making reservations for big, fat weddings in the desert state.
“Yes, it is true that tourism is reviving. We receive bookings, inquiries about weddings. In fact, this time there is also a surge in film shoots, OTT series shoots and ad films here,” said Prithvi Singh, a prominent hotelier of the state.
“This time the Government of Rajasthan has given away many benefits for travel and trade. It granted industry status to the tourism and hospitality sector and became the first state in the country to do so. In addition, the state government recently unveiled an attractive policy to promote film tourism, which envisages providing a subsidy of up to Rs 2 crore to projects that meet the specified criteria. In addition, the policy also mentions providing exemption from all fees and monument charges and places under forest irrigation, PWD , local bodies, police and Devasthan and all state government properties for shooting films,” said Apurva Kumar, president, Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Rajasthan (FHTR). “This is definitely beneficial for tourism in the state,” he added.
Gajendra Luniwal, president of the Jaipur Hotel Association, speaking to IANS confirmed, “Bookings have seen a revival in the state. The monsoons were really going well and we were surprised to see an increase in tourists during the summer as well when the mercury was rising. Tourist numbers were also seen increasing in Udaipur and Mount Abu.”
He was happy with the status of the tourism industry but said there needed to be more clarity on policy as budget hotels were yet to get their share.
Gayatri Rathore, principal secretary, Rajasthan Tourism, said, “The clauses have been made as easy as possible in the industry statute for the stakeholders and there is nothing ambiguous about it.”
Talking about the film tourism policy, she said, “The main objective of the policy is to establish Rajasthan as the most film-friendly and film-making state. It will also promote Rajasthani language film production and create jobs related to the film industry in the state.”
Rajasthan Chief Secretary Usha Sharma confirmed, “The revival of the tourism sector has been great after going through a difficult period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even during the months of April, May and June, more and more local tourists were seen traveling to different parts of the country. For the first time, a budget of Rs 1000 crore has been allocated by the Rajasthan government for tourism. Of this, Rs 600 crore is earmarked for infrastructure development and Rs 400 crore for marketing and branding,” she added.
With Rajasthan tourism on the rise, the number of visitors to the country has surpassed pre-Covid numbers.
By the end of June, 36.48 million domestic tourists had visited the state, compared with 22.36 million in the first six months of 2019, which was the normal year before the pandemic began in 2020, tourism officials confirmed.