Aurangabad district is synonymous with history culture and heritage monuments hence with tourism. The UNESCO declared World Heritage sites of Ellora and Ajanta not only attracts national but international tourists. The city has been declared and deservedly so as the Tourism Capital of Maharashtra. The tag of Tourism Capital hasn’t brought the necessary benefits or upgrades to City’s tourism or physical infrastructure. We all know the dismal conditions of city roads, non-existing footpaths, signage and information boards along with poor garbage collection mechanism.
Heritage sites and monuments are being allowed to wither away without any efforts to preserve and conserve them. Overall the scenario is depressing to say the least. The tourist spots are down in dump and tourism industry passing through a difficult phase due to official apathy and neglect.
The state government’s promise of working towards inclusion of city in World Heritage City list hasn’t borne fruit yet. Forgot UNESCO’s list the state government hasn’t been successful in inclusion the city’s name in central government’s HRIDAY scheme meant to conserve heritage sites in historical cities.
To make Aurangabad tourist friendly, improve physical infrastructure, conserve historical monuments the following steps needs to be undertaken.
1. State government should take steps to include Aurangabad in Government of India’s National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme for conservation of historical monuments and development of tourism infrastructure.
2. State Government should strive to get UNESCO Heritage City tag for city as promised.
3. Proper international quality signage and information boards guiding tourists to various monuments.
4. Development of heritage walk and sightseeing of various gates, monuments and bazaars. Development of Aurangabad Haat in old city area where tourists can shop, eat, rest and walk around the place to experience the old quarter on foot.
5. Special courses on tourism in city colleges and ITIs for development of language and soft skills to generate employment.
6 Establishment of tourism directorate in Aurangabad for promotion of tourism through institutional mechanism.
7. Shifting of Zoo to spacious location. Development of Golf Club and Safari park near Harsul.
8. Utilizing Siddharth zoo space to showcase 2000 year old historical timeline of Aurangabad district. Development of Aurangabad museum to be the main attraction for tourists in city.
9. Development of Exhibition cum Convention Centre at Aurangabad which can host international level exhibitions in city. Promoting Aurangabad as a destination for business meetings, seminars and conferences.
10. Development of Air, Rail and Road connectivity which can improve tourist inflow and make Aurangabad more accessible to domestic and international travelers.
11. Development of Aurangabad Airport and making available international connectivity espl. to Europe and East Asia.
12. Tax benefits and institutional support to various stakeholders right from small time travel and taxi operators, hotels, restaurants, handicrafts, shop owners in old bazaars and haats to big hotel chains and travel agencies.
13. Marketing of Aurangabad in international travel magazines and at various tourism and trade exhibitions.