Specttrum News: The budgetary allocation for the tourism department is a mere Rs. 25 crore for the 2014-15 fiscal which may not be enough to lend shape to the projects aimed at developing the required infrastructure to woo visitors.
This may come as a dampener, for despite political instability, Maoist activities and low budget for tourism development, Jharkhand has attracted visitors. The state registered over a 70-fold increase in tourist inflow during the past 13 years. A 7% growth was registered in the last one year.
The number of tourists stood at 4.53 lakh in 2001, but it touched 3.26 crore by December 2013, according to the state tourism department statistics. And it is not only domestic visitors. The inflow of foreigners also increased by 40-fold during this same period.
The number of foreign visitors was merely 3,111 in 2001 which went up to 1,26,481 in 2013. Deputy secretary of the tourism department Sunil Kumar Sinha said the figure was revealed by Market Plus, an NGO that had been hired by the central government to carry out a survey in Jharkhand.
It also found that the state was registering a growth in the number of tourists by 10-15% every year. According to the Economic Survey (2013-14), Jharkhand received 1.97% share of domestic tourists and 0.15% of foreign tourists of the country.
The state ranked 12th in terms of domestic tourist visits in the country. However, the maximum inflow was recorded in religious places, particularly Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar, Chinnamastika Temple in Ramgarh and Parasnath in Giridih.
Tourism minister Suresh Paswan told Hindustan Times, "Beautification, ensuring basic facilities like toilets and drinking water facilities and safety measures at tourist places were taken up seriously. Our efforts are now bringing results."
He added that more tourist places like Netarhat, Betla and Deori Temple would be developed this year. "We require more funds for proper utilisation of tourism potential in the state. Rs. 25 crore is a very small amount. I have talked to the chief minister for increasing the amount. A meeting was also held with the Union tourism ministry for increasing central assistance for tourism development in Jharkhand. We are confident that more funds will come from the state as well as the Centre," Paswan said.
There were only nine tourist complexes in the state in 2000. Twelve new tourist complexes and one ropeway have been added in the past 10 years.
Managing director of Jharkhand State Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC) Sunil Kumar said spiritual and eco-tourism have attracted tourists the most in Jharkhand last year.
"We were successful in attracting tourists from Kolkata this year by providing several facilities like bookings and travelling. Besides this, we had also publicised tourist spots in Jharkhand through advertisements in West Bengal," he said.