The state tourism department’s list will be a mix of beaches, mountains, valleys, heritage and cultural sites, and adventure tourism, officials said.
“Once we identify the 25 places, we will create a hub-and-spoke model and promote them,” said VK Gautam, principal secretary, tourism and cultural affairs department. Under the model, three main hubs — Mumbai, Aurangabad and Nagpur — will be identified, and attractions around these hubs will be promoted. Calling it a “golden tourism access”, Gautam said, “Instead of spreading our resources thin, we are trying to concentrate on places that have value for tourists.”
He said plans will be designed to attract Indian and international tourists. Another senior tourism department official said the government would design travel plans with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, or jointly with a private player. “Currently, a lot of tour operators plan trips for tourists. They can use the hub-and-spoke model,” the official said.
The government also plans to develop infrastructure in the 25 places on its list, to make it more attractive to tourists. Apart from the Konkan strip and the state’s flagship tourism district Sindhudurg, Raigad Fort and Murud-Janjira may also make it to the list.
“With the new airports in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg getting operational soon, there will be a lot more foreign tourists coming to these places in the Konkan,” the official said. Gautam said the Ajanta Ellora and Pitalkhora caves, Lonar Lake and Ahmednagar Fort will all be part of the spoke around Aurangabad, while tiger sanctuaries at Tadoba, Pench and Nagzira, native tourism in tribal areas, historical sites in Gondia, Bhandara and Wardha will be a part of the Nagpur spoke.
The department is also planning to issue guidelines for the state’s Tourism Policy over the next three months.
Gautam said the new tourism policy could contribute to state’s goal of becoming a trillion dollar economy by 2025.
“An industry survey showed that one tourist can create jobs for 16 people. With CM Devendra Fadnavis’ vision for a trillion dollar economy, tourism in Maharashtra has the potential to create 10% of that target,” Gautam said.
Subhash Goyal, an honorary general secretary of the Federation of Association of Indian Tourism and Hospitality, an umbrella organisation, welcomed the government’s “push” for tourism in the state. Goyal said Maharashtra has potential as a tourist hub, but its destinations were never marketed.
“Aurangabad and Nagpur have great potential, but the state has not marketed them.”