Madhya Pradesh to focus on its rich wildlife and age-old heritage sites to attract foreign tourists. Mr Hari Ranjan Rao IAS, Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, in an exclusive interview with Anasudhin Azeez, editor, Asian Lite
“Tigers of Madhya Pradesh are world renowned and it is now attracting tourists in mainland Europe and Britain,” Mr Hari Ranjan Rao IAS, Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation told Asian Lite.
“The state is attracting western tourists who were very much fond of African wild life,” Mr Rao added. “The security issues in South Africa, Kenya besides Morocco are diverting their attention to India, the world’s largest democracy. In association with Tata Safari, Madhya Pradesh is doing extremely well in this segment.”
Besides the wildlife, the state is focussing on its three UNESCO approved World Heritage Sites. The Khajuraho temple complex; Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi and the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are attracting thousands of enthusiast.
The state, once known for its backwardness, is now achieving a double digit growth under the leadership of Chief Minister Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan. With his mega developmental projects, Madhya Pradesh is going to become the engine for India’s growth on many sectors and tourism is one among them. The state is blessed with innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces on hilltops, raise in the visitors mind visions of empires and kingdoms, of the great warriors and builders, poets and musicians, saints and philosophers; of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. The famous Sanskrit poet-dramatist Kalidasa and the great musician of the Mughal court, Tansen, were from Madhya Pradesh.
“We are planning to explore opportunities to promote Kalidasa and Ujjain in the pattern of Shakespeare and Stratford upon Avon,” said Mr Rao.
Indore, the commercial capital of the state, is gearing up to meet the demands of global MICE circuit. “There are several hotels and convention centres are on pipeline to provide facilities for MICE tourism,” said Rao. “The central location of India is an added advantage for Madhya Pradesh to attract tourists.”
The peak tourist season in the state is from October to February. The Khajuraho festival taking place at the fourth week of February will be the culmination.
“Khajuraho is more than just an abode for erotic sculptures,” Rao said. “The temple complex actually symbolises the spirituality. The sculptures are just reminding the visitors about the purity of life by overcoming the temptations of worldly pleasures. It reminds us the trappings in human life and the need to overcome. It also highlights the value of peace at sanctum sanctorum. It’s message to whole humanity to follow the path of spirituality. ”
“We are the central state of India and we got an array of facilities and spots to cater all sort of tourists,” Rao added. “Soon we will launch a major global campaign to attract foreign tourists.”
The number of foreign tourists to the state are increasing rapidly. Last year, the state attracted .42 million international tourists. Almost 25 per cent increase from 3.2 million in 2015.
The state is offering incentives, subsidies and tax rebates to create a tourism infrastructure dotted with resorts, amusement parks, adventure & leisure centres, hotels etc.
The state is also promoting several locations for film making.
“We are planning to promote state as a hub of film making,” Rao said. “We will provide extend logistic support like all necessary equipment, supporting staff and other essential things. A film producer needs to arrive in the state only with stars and script.”
The state recently assists acclaimed directors like directors Prakash Jha, Ashuthosh Gowariker and Sanjay Leela Bhansali to can their magnum opuses.
“We are promoting the state through film festivals and network events,” said Mr Rao.
“Madhya Pradesh will never disappoint a visitor,” he added. “With 25 sanctuaries, six tiger reserves, nine national parks and three world heritage states, we are welcoming the world to Madhya Pradesh.”