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Special Category of States to boost innumerable tourism opportunities - Chhattisgarh
  • August 2014
Mr. Ajay Chandrakar, Hon’bl Minister of Tourism and Culture, Govt. of Chhattisgarh at the Second National Conference of Tourism Ministers held at New Delhi reiterated his commitment to develop Chhattisgarh as India’s top tourism destination.
At the conference Mr. Chandakar was much vocal on the need of according a special tourism status to Chhattisgarh on lines of the same special status accorded to Jammu & Kashmir and the north-eastern states for developing its tourism industry. The Hon’bl Minister said that as Chhattisgarh has immense potential for eco-tourism with 44% of the state being forested, the central government should help create special conditions to develop the same. This will help in establishing Chhattisgarh as the country’s prime eco-tourism hub, and can help bring in greater number of tourists into the state. 
At the Conference, Mr. Ajay Chandrakar put forth demands for greater cooperation from the Central Government in ways of infrastructure support and funds with which the state aims to leapfrog its tourism development activities. Mr. Chandrakar informed the gathering that he is requesting the centre for funds to develop the country’s biggest tribal hub in Chhattisgarh where the intent is to organize India’s first and biggest International Tribal Fest. This fest is aimed to bring together tribal components from across the state in terms of social living, food, culture and tradition and showcase it in a never seen before platform to the world.
Mr. Chandrakar also informed the assembled gathering on the state government’s elaborate plans to develop the ‘Buddhist Tourism Circuit’ in Sirpur in association with the Central Government. The Hon’bl Minister said that State Government has made greater efforts to get ‘World Heritage Site’ recognition for Sirpur which is of great religious importance for Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. 
He also pointed that Sirpur is of great international importance as the place has been visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama twice, and also by special envoys of Korea and Sri Lanka. He said that a number of ancient memorials and ruins have been discovered during excavation on this archaeological site, which going forward can be developed as an important Buddhist Tourist Destination.
Mr. Ajay Chandrakar, at the National Conference also advocated that development of para-tourism activities in the state will help in creating employment opportunities for the youth and bring greater prosperity to the state’s economy. He discussed forward going plans to fast-track the development of Institute of Hotel Management in the state which will enable bringing out local cuisine and tastes to the world, while enabling better training to local talents thus preparing them to service the tourism industry better.
The minister reiterated the fact that expansion of tourism industry in the state would generate employment opportunities for tribal youths and help in curbing Left Wing Extremism. The minister also discussed Chhattisgarh Government’s elaborate plans for expansion of tourism in Left Wing Extremism affected areas of Bastar and Sarguja, which in way will help in curbing naxal-violence. Mr. Chandrakar believes that the development of tourism industry in Chhattisgarh will help in creating employment opportunities for youth and will save them from influence of Naxals.
At the National Conference, the Hon’bl Tourism Minister reiterated the commitment in reaching out to prospective tourists with ambitious tourism plans, with which the state aims to become the most favoured tourism destination in the country. The state’s forward-looking tourism plans include:
Greater focus on developing tourism infrastructure by providing sustained investments to supplement the expected growth in tourism. 
Develop the tourist sectors of the state on parameters of cleanliness and safety to become model tourist destinations of the country.
Development of substantial eco-tourism circuits, to become the top eco-tourism hub in the country. 
Encourage participation of local communities in conserving the cultural heritage, while contributing to the wildlife and religious circuits that will be interconnected in order to create a loop of geographical circuits.
Streamlining the travel network within the state by increasing the number of tourist buses along with developing facilities for the landing of chartered or private helicopter.
Enabling greater communication intra-state by establishing pre-paid telecom counters across tourist locations to enable hassle-free communication and connectivity.
Promoting rich & diverse tribal culture, unexplored tourism circuits and developing local-tourism collaboration that will enable an elevated standard of living for local communities, thus realising the idea of pro-poor tourism.
Developing local skill-development programmes to hone local skills and enhancing employment opportunities of local talents that will indigenously meet the evolving tourism needs of the state. 

The ambitious tourism plans of the Hon’bl Tourism Minister is in continuation with his recent interaction with the Mr. Shripad Yasso Naik Hon’bl Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, where Mr. Chandrakar submitted a proposal for a central grant of Rs. 113.15 crores to promote eco-tourism and develop centres across Chhattisgarh as dream tourist destinations. 
In line with developing services across tourist locations like Gangrel Dam and of the Sirpur-Kodar-Raipur-Tandula circuit that is to be developed as a mega eco-tourism circuit, the demand for extended funds is planned to allocate for increasing tourist flow into the state. With these ambitious plans, the Hon’bl Minister state that Chhattisgarh aims to increase the number of tourists from a current 20 million inflow to nearly 100 million in the next 10 years. 
Recognising the importance of Tourism as an instrument for socio- economic development, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board was established on 18th January 2002. As nodal agency the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board is responsible for infrastructural and institutional development, investment in facilities & hotels, wayside amenities and above all aggressive marketing & promotion for the comprehensive development. 
The Board intends to promote tourism in a sustainable manner. CTB is also trying to incorporate carrying capacity analysis to the resource utilization. The state is covered with nearly 45% of the forests and 32% of tribal population therefore it offers immense opportunities for Eco-Ethno, Adventure and Cultural tourism.


 
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