Kahini Chakraborty – Mumbai
Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) has ambitious plans to establish the destination as an eco-tourism and camping hub in India. With a blueprint plan ready for the same in line with the National Tourism Policy, the board is developing Gangrel Dam, the largest water body in Chhattisgarh as a mega watersports adventure destination. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Santosh Misra, managing director, CTB informed, “The Gangrel Dam project work has already begun and it will take one year to be completed. We will be investing Rs 25 crore on the project. Apart from leisure, activities for attracting MICE groups to Gangrel Dam will also be developed. We will be aggressively promoting Chitrakoot Falls as well. We are also focusing on developing convention centres and niche segments for camping and promoting caravan tourism at important destinations. In order to promote the destination as a camping hub, we will be highlighting Mainpat which is popular because of Tibetan settlements.” The tourism board is also open to adopting public private partnership (PPP) model for tourism developments. After receiving 1.5 million tourist footfall in 2012, the tourism board is aiming to attract nearly three million tourists by 2015.
Furthermore, the tourism board has received Rs 113.5 crore project prioritisation from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. (GoI) CTB will be highlighting Sirpur as a Buddhist site for inbound tourists especially from South East Asian countries. Sirpur-Kodar-Raipur-Tandula will be positioned as a mega eco-tourist circuit. The board will also be promoting light and sound show at the sixth archeological site at Sirpur and Bhoramdeo, popularly known as Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh. Misra said, “This year our focus is going to be on projecting the destination’s tribal and traditional art and craft, fairs and festivals.” He mentioned that the tourism board is likely to receive Rs 200 crore investment support from the GoI and Chhattisgarh government.”
When asked about how is the board looking at working closely with travel agents, he said, “Tour operators are key for tourism production. We have seen more than 25 per cent increase in travel booking numbers this year compared to last year. Going forward we intend to keep organising workshops, seminars and FAM trips for travel agents for better understanding of the destination. By the end of the year we will be organising an eco-tourism and ethnic tourism seminar for travel agents pan India. We have invited travel agents from across the country to register with us and promote Chhattisgarh.”