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‘Golf tourism is the next big initiative of Gujarat tourism’

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What are the new tourism products that the tourism board is promoting?

Vipul Mittra

Golf is fast making inroads in Gujarat, and Golf tourism is being seen as the next big initiative taken by Gujarat tourism. In fact, five MOUs have also been signed to develop private golf courses in Gujarat. Apart from that, the success of last year’s effort has paved way to bigger events this year. The Saputara Monsoon Festival will be celebrated from August 4 to September 1, 2012. Other festivals like the Navratri festival, Rann Utsav, International Kite festival, etc will be celebrated with the usual fanfare.

What initiatives will the board be taking to promote sports tourism?

Apart from Golf tourism, we have also initiated adventure tourism in Gujarat. Adventure sports activities are being planned in Saputara which will be spread across 20 acre land and will include paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling, and obstacle course for children etc. We are also planning to set up water sports facilities in Gujarat and few beaches have also been identified for this project.

What were the tourist arrivals in the first half of 2012?

From January to May 2012, the total numbers of visitors were 101 lakh, of which 78 lakh were domestic tourists within Gujarat, 20 lakh were tourists from India, 1.4 lakh were NRIs and 0.8 lakh were foreigners. There has been a significant increase in the number of tourists after the Amitabh Bachchan campaign, which was first aired in September 2010. As an effect of this campaign, the number of visitors jumped from 170.11 lakh in 2009-10 to 198.11 lakh in 2010-11 and to 223.57 lakh in 2011-12.

With this increase, Gujarat has achieved average tourist growth of 15.71 per cent in the last two years. Gujarat now attracts 27 lakh more tourists every year, which is almost five per cent of Gujarat’s population. It may be noted that in the six destinations featured in the campaign, there has been a rise of almost eight lakh tourists in the last two years, which may be directly attributed to the influence of the campaign.

What new amenities/ infrastructure are you providing to increase international visitor numbers?

In response to the growing number of tourists in Gujarat, number of hotels are coming up in the state. As compared to 2,536 hotels in 2010, the number has increased to 2,961 in 2012, adding more than 8,000 rooms in the last two years. A number of high-end hotels have come up in Gujarat, and almost all prominent chains have shown interest in setting up projects in Gujarat. In Dwarka, almost 35 new hotels are coming up. The Taj hotel at Sasan was reopened owing to the increased traffic in the last two years.

Huge investments are also happening in places like Surat, Ahmedabad, Kutch, Somnath, Saputara and Junagadh. According to an estimate by Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (GITCO), Gujarat needs another 40,000 rooms in the next five years, out of which 12,000 are star category rooms.

How has the response come from the Delhi metro tie-up so far?

The Delhi metro train initiative was well received and highly appreciated. In fact, it was one of the most innovative tourism branding done by any state.

What is the status of the 24×7 call centre to provide tourism information?

The 24×7 call centre has been initiated to provide tourists with the latest information about places, package deals, hotels, etc. This will help tourists get latest information and make an informed decision.