Speaking to Srijith Sridharan, Managing Editor, Responsible Travel World, Mr. Hari Ranjan Rao IAS, Secretary, Madhya Pradesh Tourism ; shared his States’ ambitious plans in developing the travel and leisure horizon to another level. Excerpts
Madhya Pradesh is surging ahead with its Second Travel Mart. Where do you see the Travel & Hospitality trade is heading to ?
We are very confident. For the last ten years the good and stable governance under the able leadership of Shri. Shivraj Sing Chauhan has helped in developing the state from a very backward to state-of-art Modern State in all aspects. We are quite late entrants in the Tourism Industry as such as we had to focus more into building and strengthening our infrastructure within the state. Now we are all equipped with good connectivity of roads, good and decent way-side hotels, trained guides. It is then we started focussing on marketing in a better way. Our earlier Travel Mart brought in good appreciation from the Industry partners, hence we are sure we are heading in the right path with the Travel Mart and promotion of Madhya Pradesh.
Your State has largest forest reserve in India and there are many national parks as Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Satpura etc. Reports of poaching of wild-life, especially Tigers is a serious allegation being heard about these Tiger reserves, which is of very concern to a serious traveller. How are you ensuring law is maintained and the Wild cat is saved ?
It is true that earlier there were frequent reports of tiger poaching from various Tiger Reserves in Madhya Pradesh. But the case has been diminished or has come down to negligible levels.
We had initiated local community involvement especially the tribals around those areas who guard the forest along with the trained forest officials, to check any foul play. We undertake outreach programmes to villages and communities educating them the need for conservating the wild life. All these are showing effective results and poachers are brought before the law due to these stringent efforts.
Gone are those days of simple ‘Destination-Window-Shopping-Travel’. Travellers are more knowledgeable and more educated than even Destination Marketing Agencies. What measures are your organisation in making travel more experiential, unique as also how does Madhya Pradesh plan for Responsible Travel Initiatives ?
I completely agree that travel is no more visit to a destination and look-around and take back a souvenir. Travellers are more intelligent and more aware of the facts. We are working on various projects that will transform one’s visit to Madhya Pradesh memorable and forever cherishing.
As for Responsible Travel initiatives, we are seriously thinking of a Rural Community based approach, to support Farm Tourism. Many of our youth are working in the agriculture sector and we want to provide them with a possibility of generating more revenue from their farmlands and agriculture. This will also help in knowing the local culture better and understanding Madhya Pradesh more deeper.
Our farming sector has seen huge development since this government and last year we had 20% increase in our agriculture sector. We want the youth to explore possibilities of increasing revenue without diluting the farming practices and culture. A proposal is being worked out.