The Union Ministry of Tourism is creating awareness on lesser known tourist attractions in the country by holding special festivals and conventions at these places every three-four months. Sources in the Ministry said that the events would be held in collaboration with State governments at places that aren’t so popular with tourists as yet but have the potential to emerge as major centres of tourism. They include wetlands such as Sultanpur in Haryana, places of mythological significance such as Kurukshetra in Haryana, and cultural heritage sites such as Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.
On January 9 and 10, a conference in Kurukshetra hosted tour operators, opinion makers and social media influencers across India, along with officials of the Tourism Ministry, the Haryana Tourism Department, and the local administration.
“The endeavour was to create awareness about the tourism potential and religious significance of the area. The stakeholders discussed various aspects, including infrastructure, accommodation, tourist amenities, inflow of tourists to this area, travel and tourism sustainability, responsible tourism, the involvement of the local community, sensitisation, and training of the service providers for promotion and marketing of the region,” R. K. Suman, Regional Director-North, Ministry of Tourism, told The Hindu.
All visitors to northern India almost always head to well-known tourist spots such as Jaipur and Agra, Manisha Saxena, Director General, Tourism Ministry, pointed out. “This conference aimed to explore, promote and highlight Kurukshetra and places of significance related to the Mahabharat as a preferred tourist destination both amongst the domestic tourists and overseas visitors,” Ms. Saxena said.
Among the upcoming facilities for visitors to Kurukshetra being developed by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with Haryana Tourism is a museum on the Mahabharat at Jyotisar. A Sound and Light Show has been set-up.
In December, a cultural festival featuring renowned musicians was organised in collaboration with the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and the Ministry of Textiles at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram in Vijayawada. The event also showcased the handicrafts, cuisine, and handlooms of the region, including souvenirs from Mangalagiri, a weaving village renowned for its GI tagged saris. Also in the spotlight were lesser known sites nearby, including the Undavalli caves, and Bhawani island, which is situated in the middle of the Krishna river.
Similar programmes were organised over the past couple of months at Dwarka, Mathura, and the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary.
In February, Indore in Madhya Pradesh will host an event to promote Ramsar sites as tourist destinations. A Ramsar site is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, 75 of which are situated in India.