PRIDE OF MAHARASHTRA


top-7

Maharashtra has been rated on top in terms of tourism potential by a recent survey compiled by World Travel and Tourism Council. The ranking has been done by assessing the relative competitiveness of over 30 states in India. Maharashtra has moved up one position from the previous edition of the survey done last in 2013.
In comparison, national capital Delhi — which topped last time’s rating — stood second on the list. Similarly, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu won the third, fourth and fifth place respectively. According to the Tourism Highlights 2015 Edition report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the total number of International Tourist Arrivals (ITA) worldwide was 1,133 million in 2014, India attracted 0.67 per cent of the world’s international tourist arrivals out of which Maharashtra attracted 4.5 million tourists from foreign countries and over 8.4 million domestic tourists, which is largest than any other state in the country.
The ranking was highly dependent on a strong economy, good infrastructure, presence of a sizeable quantum of branded hotel rooms and a variety of demand generators to occupy these rooms. “In line with these factors, Maharashtra has recorded perfect scores in four parameters – tourist visits, GSDP per capita, effectiveness of marketing campaign and aircraft movement. The state has performed well across all other parameters with the exception of its expenditure on tourism,” said an official from state tourism department.
India’s travel and tourism economy is poised to grow 7.5 per cent in 2015 over last year, exceeding the 6.9 per cent growth that the global forum has predicted for the South Asian region. By the end of 2015, the travel and tourism sector will contribute Rs8.22 trillion or 7 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 37.4 million jobs — almost 9per cent of total employment, the report said. In comparison during the year 2014, the industry contributed Rs7.64 trillion and 36.7 million jobs to the Indian economy.
The Maharashtra Government is also looking into a proposal to convert sections of select forts into heritage hotels and also make forts available as “exclusive wedding destinations”. The proposal is part of the state government’s ‘Consultation Paper on Tourism Policy- 2016′ which among other things plans to exploit the tourism potential of over 350 forts that dot the state.
The draft tourism policy, open for stakeholders’ suggestions before final cabinet approval, aims at developing a strategy for creating one million jobs and attracting investments of Rs 30,000 crore in five years.
However, the idea has not gone down well with environmentalists, historians and conservationists. The major concern is that this will lead to commercial exploitation of forts which in turn will lead to ecological imbalance of the area around the fort. Majority of these forts are situated in and around forest areas and making forts available as wedding destination means loud music, crowd, chaos, party which will not only disrupt the wildlife, but also create nuisance. So many other rules under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) have to be followed for forts which are surrounded by water bodies. The idea of handing over these citadels to private entities to revamp and convert into a heritage hotel is not good for the structure. As it is, the forts in Maharashtra are not conserved the way they should have been.
In nutshell, the state of Maharashtra is an ideal place for leisure tourists. There are a number of exotic destinations in the state many of which are situated in serene and peaceful environments, offering travellers the perfect ambience to relax and unwind.

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