A meeting has been planned on January 6 where officials from the Union shipping ministry will be participating along with state tourism and forest department officials. Lok Sabha Speaker and MP from Kota Om Birla has been the driving force behind the cruise tourism project in the state.
Alok Gupta, principal secretary, tourism, said the focus this year will be on domestic tourists and the new products will create fresh interest among tourists.
“With the vaccination programme starting from January, the threat of the pandemic will recede slowly, generating confidence among people to go on vacations. We expect tourism returning to normalcy in the new year even though foreign tourist movement remains a concern,” said Gupta.
He said the last week of December has been very good with celebrities preferring destinations in Rajasthan like Ranthambore to usher in the New Year. “It shows Rajasthan still enjoys a premium as a tourist destination in the country and their visits are a good advertisement for the industry,” added Gupta.
In fact, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhat among others are in Ranthambore to celebrate the New Year.
However, experts in the industry said that the state tourism department should now look at short-haul foreign countries like South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Middle East instead of Europe, which is still in the grip of the pandemic.
The department is also planning to hold roadshows in domestic source markets to attract domestic tourists. Officials in the tourism department said in the last year’s budget Rs 100 crore was set aside for promotional activities, but because of the pandemic that could not be used. “We expect that the funds this year should be used to promote domestic tourism,” said a tour operator.
However, the hospitality industry in the state said that neither the Centre nor the state government has offered any relief to the tourism sector.
Randhir Vikram Singh, president of Indian Heritage Hotels Association, said, “This is the right time that the state government should start providing benefits of industry to the hospitality sector. The state has declared tourism as an industry, but we are not getting the benefits. Fixed electricity charges, incentives in land conversion and relief in bar licences should be extended so that the units can again stand on their feet.”