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Government issues guidelines on niche tourism

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 (15:17:27) Tags: Business, Tourism, Government New Delhi: To provide an "exciting" new face to tourism in India, the government today issued guidelines on "niche tourism products" like caravan and heliport tourism. Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, who had promised these "niche products" in her 100 day agenda to revive the sector hit by 26/11 and global recession, has finally announced the guidelines, which includes financial packages to the states planning to develop and promote them. While caravan tourism involves the use of a specially equipped vehicle deployed on a tourist circuit and connecting it by road, helipad tourism is aimed at promoting tourism in hilly and remote areas by making helipads at select destinations with tourism potential. "Considering the diverse tourism products and the multitude of landscapes in India, caravans and caravan parks have a potential to add an exciting new facet to tourism in Incredible India and would attract a wide range of market segments including young people, families, senior citizens and international tourists," said a statement issued here by the ministry. The concept of caravan tourism will be popularized and promoted by developing caravan parks. This will be done through the public private partnership route. The ministry will approve these parks only after states provide facilities like parking bays, tourist amenities centre, toilets and adequate safety measures. "The caravan parks will have electricity, water and sewerage disposal facilities for the caravans which are parked," the statement said. Also, these parks will have to take environment friendly steps. For this, the ministry will provide central assistance up to Rs.50 million per destination to state governments. It will be done under its scheme of product infrastructure development of destination and circuits for development of caravan parks in government sector, an official said. About heliport tourism, the ministry said it will extend financial assistance up to Rs.7.5 million to state governments for construction of heliports. The guidelines specify that the projects for construction of heliports will have to conform to the technical requirements laid down by the Director General of Civil Aviation. Already, the ministry has approved two projects in Sikkim. "Two projects for construction of heliports at Mangan and Geetang Khola in Sikkim have been sanctioned under this new initiative," it said. They will be ready in two years. Apart from providing central financial assistance for the heliport, the government will also give aid for developing the area as a tourist hub. For development of Mangan Tourist Axis in north Sikkim, the tourism ministry will provide Rs.30.29 million and for Geetang Khola waterfall in West Sikkim Rs.30.25 million will be sanctioned, officials said. "Tourists are discouraged due to long and taxing travel through hilly roads. So a heliport will help in making it a popular destination," an official said. As India is known for its wellness tourism, especially because of its traditional systems of medicine -- ayurveda, yoga, Unani and Siddha -- the ministry plans to promote this key area too. For this, it has revised its earlier guidelines of Marketing Development Assistance (MDA). Under this scheme, the wellness centres accredited by states, and travel agents and tour operators will be qualified for financial assistance to participate in wellness tourism fairs abroad. The official said this will happen only when new guidelines are finalized by the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy under the Health Ministry and the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals. (IANS)