How has Maharashtra Tourism raised benchmarks in 2013?
Tourism plays a vital role in generating employment. Our focus was on creating an atmosphere of inclusive tourism in the state. Promotion of tourism and destinations attract tourists. Hence, we kept an approach of balanced promotion of destinations and regions of Maharashtra. Through continuous promotions and activities, now,people not only in Maharashtra but also in India and abroad know about our state's destinations like Tiger Reserves in Vidarbha region, beaches of Konkan region and even the remote places like Panala near Kolhapur and so on. We have raised benchmarks by promoting lesser known places and at the same time maintaining our popular destinations.
What have been the key initiatives that stood out or made an impact?
The World Heritage Sites of Ajanta and Ellora already attract major national and international tourists. We have created world class facilities here in the form of Visitor Information Centres, which are a one-stop location for all information, showcasing creatively to tourists about caves, history, importance etc through state-of-art libraries, audio-visual shows, literature and replicas of caves within the Visitor Information Centres. Tourists are receiving these facilities very well and there is a sudden spurt in growth of tourists here.
We have promoted Deccan Odyssey luxury train by inviting tour operators from various countries across the world for a familiarisation tour and they have been promoting this train majorly because of their positive experience.
Plus, we have organised several festivals in various parts of the state, like Chikoo Festival, Mango Festival, Strawberry Festival, Wine Festival, Elephanta Festival, Wagh Festival, Marbat Festival, etc., which has helped in generating domestic tourism.
We celebrated Diwali at Times Square in New York, which was a historic event in all the years of Maharashtra Tourism. This event has truly put Maharashtra on international tourism map.
What was your strategy to give Maharashtra Tourism an impetus in 2013?
Our strategy was to give a tremendous boost through three major initiatives. One, we were aggressive on public relations front and created awareness among the masses about our efforts. Secondly, we were high on promotions through outdoor, print and television. Thirdly, we reached out to the masses through events and inclusive tourism programmes, which involved local people of respective regions and created an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.
What have been the key trends in tourism in the state of Maharashtra during the year?
The year of 2013 was the most happening for Maharashtra Tourism. We remained engaged with a range of events, conferences, MoUs with states of countries like Canada, Japan and Australia, roadshows for tour operators in India across the cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Agra, Delhi, Chandigarh and Lucknow.
Based on the current trends and sector performance, what are your plans for 2014?
We will continue these aggressive plans since our all strategies have worked very well in this year. We are looking forward for improved positioning of Maharashtra Tourism in India and internationally in 2014. Our aim is to become one of the most aggressive states in terms of tourism promotions in India.