State fails to strike balance in tourism

Gandhinagar, July 02: AS monsoon fuels wanderlust of the urban denizens, tourism infrastructure in the State seems to be playing way off the mark with its priorities.

For, despite big plans and efforts, the State government has failed to shape balanced tourism growth with a lopsided focus on only a few places driving private investments.

Response from seven district administrations with significant tourism potential, to a Right To Information (RTI) Act query has revealed that there is “zero” tourism activity in all but Kutch.

The districts were asked about number of applications they received during ‘tourism year’ for tourism related land acquisitions.

Junagadh with its Asiatic Lion, Ahmedabad with Lothal, Bhavnagar with Palitana and Velavadar did not attract any interest from tourism entrepreneurs. Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot were the other districts replying in the negative.

And even as Kutch comes out as the hotspot with operators plumping for land, those already in the business say things are not that well.

Mike Vaghela, who attracts a lot of foreign tourists to Kutch through his resorts and sits on the tourism advisory board of the government, feels that rest of the State is no match to Kutch when it comes to tourism potential: “Sadly much of it remains to be harnessed, but the kind of beaches, handicrafts, history, culture Kutch has its understandable that all growth is visible around this district.”

Interestingly, of the 16 applications made for hotel and resort lands in Kutch all are for the towns of Bhuj and Gandhidham, showing commercial rather than tourism focus.

Tour operators say that city centres of these districts with tourist attractions might have adequate infrastructure, but the places where they are actually needed - Lothal (Ahmedabad) and Modhera (Mehsana) for example - there is clear dearth of facilities.

That is also the experience of day-trippers. Sanjeev Joshi, a Vadodara-based architect was hard pressed to find a place to stay for a day near Lothal as he wanted to study the site in detail from his professional perspective.

“It’s the most pathetic way one can keep a site of such immense importance. Forget about the basics of a place to stay or eat, as things stand today, the small museum that has been built there is becoming more important than the actual site,” Joshi says, fresh from a trip to the Indus Valley site.

The same seems to be the fate of the sun temple at Modhera.

“If you want to see a sunrise at Modhera, you almost need to rush through an apology of a breakfast from some highway hotel in Mehsana. The cafeteria at the site said we have to tell them in advance if we want a meal,” was the experience of the Shah family from Gandhinagar last week.

State fails to strike balance in tourism