Madhya Pradesh (MP) has a unique heritage, wildlife, pilgrimage cities like Ujjain, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar, Chitrakoot and Amarkantak, spectacular natural beauty, pleasant climate, colourful tribals, and festivals. The state has UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Khajuraho, Sanchi and Bhimbetka. Tourism and cultural festivals are organised in Khajuraho, Orchha, Shivpuri, Bhopal, Sanchi, Mandu, Maheshwar and Gwalior. MP has nine national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries. Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Panna National Parks are all tiger reserve projects.
Presently, the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) owns hotels across the state, besides a number of wayside amenities, intra-air services, cruises, fleet of transport and caravan.
The number of tourists visiting MP has doubled in the last four years. However, it is the domestic tourists who formed a major part of these visitors. The increase in tourist traffic has been due to diverse tourism products introduced year-on-year by MPSTDC.
To capitalise on the rich assets of the state, MPSTDC has worked on a two-pronged strategy. Realising the vast potential of various tourism products, the Corporation came up with plans to promote them. Besides heritage and cultural offerings, MPSTDC has also highlighted Adventure, Eco, Wildlife, and Caravan Tourism products. The government, in association with the Corporation, has announced an Eco and Adventure Tourism Policy to popularise and promote these tourism segments.
MP is the first state to introduce Caravan Tourism and has received national award from the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. Presently, MPSTDC has three caravans, one each stationed at Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur. In addition, the Corporation is keen to develop Adventure Tourism in the state, besides offering water sports facility in the main water bodies of the state like Tawa, Gandhi Sagar and Bargi.
MP is the first state in India to provide intra-state air connectivity, which connects Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Indore and Khajuraho. In addition, the Corporation is promoting Film Tourism. MPSTDC will be the nodal agency for facilitating film producers and help in getting all clearances/permissions for film shooting.
Raghwendra Kumar Singh (IAS), Managing Director, MPSTDC, informed, “As part of the future strategy, there is a plan to develop wayside amenities across the state. 268 spots have been identified for the purpose. In its endeavour to encourage public-private investment, 455 hectares of land is made available for the private investors through the land bank policy. In addition, the Corporation has identified a number of heritage properties to invite investors to develop them into hotels and resorts.”
MPSTDC today has established the state as the ‘Heart of Incredible India’ on the global map by participating in various domestic and international tourism marts and trade fairs. Foreign tourist arrivals in the state have also increased over the years. MP recently received the ‘Best Wildlife Destination’ award from Lonely Planet.
Furthermore, the Tourism Policy released in 2010 envisages promotion of Sustainable Tourism, the key highlights being introduction of rebates on Entertainment Tax and Luxury Tax on new heritage hotels and Bed & Breakfast, and exemption of tourism projects from Stamp Duty. The tourism board is also exploring avenues for Medical Tourism in the state.Innovation with Offbeat Ideas
Initiating many on-ground, Above-The-Line, Below-The-Line activities and online campaigns to highlight MP as ‘The Heart of Incredible India’, the first marketing campaign, ‘Hindustan Ka Dil Dekho’, was started in 2007, followed by ‘Hindustan Ka Dil Dekha’. And in 2011, ‘MP Ajab Hai, Sabse Gajab Hai’ campaign was launched.
MP thus holds a distinct position in tourism promotion, compared to other Indian states.