We Need to Change Our Perspective While Looking at Tourism as an Industry: Girish Mahajan

• Launches WhatsApp Chatbot to provide Information about Tourism Destinations in Maharashtra
• Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra launches an App for the “Aai Tourism Policy” for Women Entrepreneurs

Mumbai, February 7, 2024: Maharashtra Tourism, the leading authority responsible for promoting tourism in the state, announced its ambitious plan to enhance travel and trade opportunities in Maharashtra. Recognizing the region’s tremendous potential, Maharashtra Tourism aims to leverage its unique cultural, historical, and natural assets to attract domestic and international visitors while promoting business and trade collaborations within the state.

With its diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich heritage, Maharashtra has long been a sought-after destination for travellers and explorers. The state boosts iconic landmarks such as the bustling metropolis of Mumbai, the breathtaking hill stations of Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar, the ancient Ajanta and Ellora caves, and the serene beaches of Alibaug and Tarkarli. By showcasing Maharashtra’s immense beauty and cultural richness, the Department of Tourism intends to position the state as a must-visit destination for tourists from across the globe.

Mr. Girish Mahajan, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, today launched an AI-powered WhatsApp chatbot (+91 94038 78864) that provides an interactive and informative way to explore the state’s rich cultural heritage, stunning natural beauty, and diverse attractions, all through the convenience of your mobile phone. The chatbot can answer your questions about destinations, things to do, accommodation, and more, in both English and Marathi, making trip planning a breeze.

While unlocking Maharashtra’s tourism potential demands strategic investments in infrastructure, hospitality, and technology, Mr. Girish Mahajan, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, said, “Seamless connectivity, from roadways to air routes, beckons travellers to explore our diverse landscapes. Varied accommodations, from luxury resorts to cosy homestays, cater to all preferences. Embracing digital tools enriches visitor experiences and streamlines services. Yet, sustainability must underpin our efforts, preserving our heritage and supporting local communities. Our journey isn’t just economic—it’s about showcasing Maharashtra’s soul to the world, fostering understanding and appreciation. Let’s unite the government, private sector, communities, and citizens to craft a vibrant, sustainable tourism legacy for generations.”

Commenting on the initiatives by Maharashtra Tourism, Ms. Jayshree Bhoj, Secretary, Department of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, said, “In Maharashtra, we treasure a tapestry of tourism treasures, from historical marvels to pristine beaches, all ingrained with our rich cultural heritage. As we stride towards 2024-2025 with aspirations of UNESCO recognition for 11 forts, we affirm our commitment to fostering tourism beyond mere travel. Our Department of Tourism diligently crafts policies, amplifies promotions and nurtures diverse experiences in collaboration with stakeholders like MTDC and private players championing niche tourism. We envision a sustainable tourism ecosystem fueled by collaborative efforts and robust policies. Join us on this journey as we sculpt Maharashtra’s tourism narrative together, with an open invitation for valuable insights to shape our forthcoming comprehensive tourism policy.”

Mr. Girish Mahajan, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, also launched an app for the Aai Policy (https://maharashtratourism.gov.in/aai-register/). The Aai Policy, introduced by the Government of Maharashtra, aims to empower women entrepreneurs in tourism. Under this initiative, the Department of Tourism plans to register ten women-owned and operated businesses in each district, spanning various sectors such as homestays, hotels/restaurants, tour and travel agencies, and more. This policy is designed to foster entrepreneurship and economic empowerment among women in the tourism industry across Maharashtra.

While taking the delegates through the proposed Tourism Policy, Dr. B N Patil, Director, Directorate of Tourism, said, “Maharashtra’s tourism sector offers significant revenue and job opportunities, with over 5 million jobs generated. To maximize tourist footfall and spending, we’re focusing on strategic initiatives such as rebranding hidden gems, promoting local festivals, and streamlining policies. Through innovation and collaboration, we aim to unlock Maharashtra’s tourism potential, driving economic prosperity for all stakeholders.”

As part of the panel discussion on Unleashing Tourism Potential in Maharashtra, moderated by Swati Khandelwal Jain, Executive Editor, Zee Business, the panellists, Mr. Santosh Suryanvanshi, MD (Ayurveda) P.G.C.C (Pancakrarma Therapy); Mr. Chandan Badsavle, Director, Saguna Baug Agro Tourism Pvt. Ltd.; Mr. Vistasp Kharas, Paragliding Profile and Interior Architect; Mr. Sachin Panchal, Founder, Motohom Caravans, spoke about how Maharashtra’s diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage hold immense potential for tourism growth. The state can unlock new avenues for visitor engagement by leveraging niche sectors like agri-tourism, wellness, and adventure tourism. Agri-tourism offers immersive experiences in rural life, farm stays, and culinary delights, showcasing Maharashtra’s agrarian roots. Ayurveda tourism taps into ancient healing traditions, attracting wellness seekers to rejuvenate amidst serene surroundings. Adventure tourism capitalizes on Maharashtra’s natural beauty, offering thrilling escapades like trekking, water sports, and wildlife safaris. Through strategic promotion and infrastructure development, Maharashtra can position itself as a premier destination, catering to diverse traveller interests and boosting economic prosperity.

Recognizing the potential of tourism to drive economic development, Maharashtra Tourism is committed to facilitating investments and business partnerships in the state. The tourism board will actively engage with industry leaders, chambers of commerce, and trade associations to foster trade opportunities across hospitality, travel, food and beverage sectors, and handicrafts. Through targeted initiatives and promotional campaigns, Maharashtra Tourism aims to attract entrepreneurs and investors to explore the state’s vast potential and untapped opportunities.

Maharashtra Tourism’s ambitious plan to boost travel and trade opportunities aligns with the state government’s vision to position Maharashtra as a global hub for tourism and commerce. By leveraging its natural and cultural wealth, the tourism board aims to create a thriving ecosystem that benefits visitors and residents, ultimately contributing to the economic growth and prosperity of the state.

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