What have been some of the high points of MTDC's promotional efforts in 2013?
If I summarise in five key points; one was our improved connect with media through a pro-active PR approach, second our television commercials featuring musical maestro Shankar Mahadevan, third our roadshows across the country, fourth our innovative promotions and organisation of various people and tourism centric festivals and events and finally, our international promotions through events, MoUs and FAM trips.
What has been the response to the proactive efforts to reach out to tourists abroad this year?
The response is overwhelming! This year we have a concrete plan action on MoU with New South Wales (Australia) and will shortly chalk out plans with Wakayama (Japan) and Quebec (Canada). Our official meet with tour operators in USA during ‘MTDC Diwali at Times Square-New York’ event, turned into a major gala event when they were dancing on the tunes of Maharashtrian folk music after the conference. Their responses were very positive and similar was the scene when we attended WTM at London. The tour operators in various continents who visited Deccan Odyssey train are now promoting it.
Which are the locations in Maharashtra that have witnessed maximum tourist demand in 2013?
The World Heritage Sites of Ajanta, Ellora and Elephanta caves, Mumbai for Bollywood tourism and Tiger Reserves of Pench and Tadoba are at the top list. At the same time popular destinations like, Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani, Matheran, Malshej, Forts of Sindhudurg, Raigad, Shivneri, beaches of Tarkarli, Velas, Alibaug etc. are receiving more tourists. Nonetheless, lesser known destinations like, Lonar crater, Kaas plateau, Social Circuit and Buddhist Circuits are also picking up very well.
How are you highlighting aspects that appeal to the next generation like adventure sports?
There are many attractions for adventure sports enthusiasts. There is sky diving at Lonavala, we have just introduced hot air ballooning in Lonavala also. Plus, we are coming up with an institute on scuba diving and snorkelling at Tarkarli. There is paragliding at Panchgani, water-sports across the beach-line of Maharashtra and trekking across the Western Ghats.
What are your goals for 2014 and plans to achieve them?
We want to continue our efforts in the direction of sustainable and inclusive tourism. We have lined up a series of activities, which will be announced at the right time. Some of the most ambitious projects include promotions of Panala Fort at Kolhapur, Sea World India at Sindhudurg, scuba diving institute at Tarkarli, amphibian plane service, etc.