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Udan-III has come as a big boon to Madhya Pradesh: Hari Rajan Rao

Hari Rajan Rao, managing director, MP Tourism, says it is imperative that we keep our hotel operations to a manageable level and bring in private sector participation at places where we have more than one hotel or we can move on from that established destination by offering our property to private partners.

Hari Rajan Rao, managing director, MP Tourism, says it is imperative that we keep our hotel operations to a manageable level and bring in private sector participation at places where we have more than one hotel or we can move on from that established destination by offering our property to private partners. By Reema Lokesh

What’s MP Tourism’s primary focus for the year 2019-2020 and near future?

Madhya Pradesh is known for its rich wildlife, heritage, spiritual journeys and the wonderful nature. It has always been a challenge to focus on any one attraction for tourists. In the year 2019-20 and in near future we plan to showcase Madhya Pradesh as a complete family tourist destination.

Would MP Tourism tap new target markets and is there a new strategy in place?

Yes. The board has begun its international journey in the right earnest by organising roadshows in many international markets apart from participating in various Travel Marts. Our foray into USA, UK, China, Europe and Moscow has started yielding results. As our new strategy, we have also taken our private sector partners to various international travel marts and road shows with us as a team.

Any plans to privatise the hotels under the tourism board periphery?

The Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) has been a flag bearer in providing “Value for Money” hospitality services in Madhya Pradesh for the last 30 years. Currently the MPSTDC is operating about 60 hotels in the entire state. MPSTDC, perhaps, is one of the few tourism corporations in the country which makes profit. However, we wish to now focus on our hospitality business by joining the league of good hotel chains and, therefore, maintaining quality services have become our paramount objective. Keeping this in view, it is imperative that we keep our operations to a manageable level and bring in private sector participation at places where we have more than one hotel or we can move on from that established destination by offering our property to private partners. This is being done by offering selective properties of MPSTDC on a 30-year licence period through an open and transparent process.

What are the niche areas which would demand focus in the near future?

Opportunities in Adventure Tourism and “rich experiences” involving local crafts, arts, life style, cuisine and architecture are some of the niche areas that now we want to focus on.

What are the primary challenges you face in terms of destination promotion?

Large number of equally competitive destinations becomes a challenge as we face the risk of losing the focus. Another challenge is to get complete buy- in of the local bodies like municipalities who are the primary stakeholders.

Any work to improve transport connectivity to the state, especially on the aviation front?

There is a lot of good news on air transport connectivity to Madhya Pradesh recently. Udan-III has come as a big boon to MP, with airlines choosing to connect Satna, Rewa, Chhindwara, Datia and Ujjain to other destinations. Already Indore, Bhopal, Khajuraho, Jabalpur and Gwalior have well-functioning established airports. Airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet have started flights from Bhopal and Indore having more than 100 flights per day to various destinations in the country. MP is now connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Raipur, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Gwalior, Vadodara, Nagpur, Lucknow, Jodhpur and Varanasi. Shortly connectivity to Kochi, Udaipur, Agra and Allahabad have also been announced. Madhya Pradesh is already well connected by railways, all trains connecting north-south & east-west India pass through the state. We are confident that this recent spurt in air connectivity will go a long way in establishing MP as the tourist hub in central India because of its strategic location in the country. The very good road network of national and state highways has ensured that long distance road travel in MP becomes a pleasurable activity.

Any message you wish to share?

Madhya Pradesh Tourism is known for its innovative best practices and leadership role. We wish to continue to be the role model with a good dedicated team and strong political commitment.

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