Nagpur: A Rs 1000 Crores opportunity in Vidarbha lies untapped in tourism because of the apathy of the Government Department which could be the bread-earner of several families especially as non-agriculture employment revenue generation for farmers for whom the going is very tough.
Tiger Country, with Nagpur as its Gateway, with a good tiger population in the region, wildlife tourism is a major attraction due to the existence of several National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves here. However, there’s been no organized and systematic approach for tapping the potential of these areas for promoting nature/eco-tourism which also include hills, water-bodies etc. informed President of VED Devendra Parekh while highlighting the fact that VED has been trying very hard for years to put tourism in its proper perspective in Vidarbha.
IPP, VED Vilas Kale who strongly feels for the region and its tourism values and assets rued the lack of enthusiasm by the Government of Maharashtra in Vidarbha’s tourism potential although Vidarbha is endowed not just with eco-tourism assets but a number of other tourist attractions including, historical, archaeological, heritage, handlooms & handicraft, cultural, rural and agriculture, religious, adventure, urban, social tourism including art and artifacts and colourful fairs and festivals and convention tourism (MICE-Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions). The potential is immense, but MTDC has failed to harness this potential which can create lakhs of jobs, and pump in crores of rupees in the local economy.
Kale further said that Vidarbha’s tourism potential is unlike the rest of Maharashtra. Our assets being governed mainly by Government, Departments like the Forest & Archaeology, Vidarbha tourism needs the active involvement of these two Govt. departments in all related matters. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that an empowered body, with high ranking officials from all the three departments, i.e. Tourism, Forest and Archeology and representatives of stake- holders, are given the mandate to harness this potential & develop the necessary infrastructure, & market it to the global community.
Secretary General of VED Rahul Upganlawar expressed his disappointment with the MTDC saying that the problem, till date, has been that Vidarbhaites have had to solely depend on MTDC to promote/create tourism destinations by taking up such a challenge, and create wealth through tourism in Vidarbha, but this has not happened perhaps primarily because the State is too big, geographically, to manage, so all tourism under MTDC appears to end with western Maharashtra which they promote very well while Vidarbha doesn’t exist for them. Also, MTDC rarely disseminates information about Vidarbha’s tourism potential to the domestic or international tourism markets.
TCS and VED have earlier drawn up Tourism Circuits at different times, for the different directions with Nagpur as the hub. Details have been incorporated into the east, west, north and south circuits by TCS and VED at different times but these have never been promoted adequately by MTDC. Vidarbha tourism maps, city maps, books on Vidarbha tourism have been published by a VED Member and ex-chairman of the Tourism Panel of VED, Jagmohan Sethi, and not by MTDC. In addition, there’s a lack of focus, poor infrastructure and global advertising/marketing. MTDC has failed to do justice to such fantastic potential.
Furthermore, funds were allocated specifically by Central Government for tourism promotion in Vidarbha, twice, but MTDC never bothered to make use of it so that the funds lapsed and were returned to the Centre. The apathy is appalling to say the least.
Hence, VED feels here is a perfect case for a separate and dedicated tourism corporation which could be called the Vidarbha Tourism Development Corporation, with Nagpur as its HQ. VTDC would have its own budget which would be funded by GoM. It would have its own separate Board of Members and a separate entity to run tourism in Vidarbha. It would have its own Action Plan to carry out its aims and objectives as totally distinct from MTDC which, ostensibly, runs the show now.