Santosh Mishra

Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

Interview

December 18, 2014

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India & You

Nov-Dec 2014



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Offering a boundless bliss

Santosh Mishra, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

Santosh Mishra, Managing Director, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board

BOASTING OF A RICH TRIBAL CULTURE THAT IS RESPLENDENT WITH FLOURISHING FLORA AND FAUNA, CHHATTISGARH OFFERS A VARIETY OF TOURIST OPTIONS. TO ATTRACT INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS MORE, CHHATTISGARH TOURISM BOARD HAS BEEN COMING UP WITH NUMEROUS EXPERIENCES. SANTOSH MISHRA SHARES THE PLANS.
 
Q : What is the percentage of the international and domestic tourist arrivals in Chhattisgarh? How has the overall growth been?
 
During the first six months, the tourism in Chhattisgarh witnessed large number of visitor footfalls to the state. Until May, more than 12 millions domestic and 4,000 foreign tourists had visited the state and enjoyed the natural beauty and tourism offerings of Chhattisgarh. The total number of footfalls in Chhattisgarh in 2013 was 22 million, which we expect to raise exponentially up to 30 million in the current financial year.

Q : What are the state’s strengths and focus areas in the tourism sector? How do you plan to utilise your strengths? Any plans to bring new features to Chhattisgarh tourism?

Chhattisgarh tourism offers a variety of tourist options for travellers while catering to the needs of different segments of travellers. The state boasts of a rich tribal culture that is resplendent with flourishing flora and fauna. A number of arresting waterfalls, stimulating caves, rock paintings and rare wildlife found in wildlife sanctuaries along with beautiful ancient monuments, Buddhist sites, intricately carved temples and ancient palaces add that mystic appeal to the state and compel the tourists to visit this natural beauty.

Most of the destinations in Chhattisgarh are unexplored and provide an unforgettable experience unlike other traditional destinations, that are much commercialised now. The major attractions worth exploring in Chhattisgarh include three national parks and 11 wildlife sanctuaries, that provide an unrealistic experience of wildlife tourism to the visitors. This wilderness is home to the exquisite species like rare wild buffalo and the even rarer Hill Myna that are known as the state animal and state bird of Chhattisgarh, respectively.

A variety of activities such as water sports, trekking, rock climbing, parasailing and bungee jumping can also be enjoyed during a visit to the state. The state has many USPs in tourism and tribal and anthropological heritage make the state truly a unique amalgamation of travelworthy destinations.

Looking at the varied tourism opportunities in the state, the tourism board intends to promote ecological, cultural and sustainable tourism in the state with an aim to strengthen the quality and charisma of various world-class tourist destinations in Chhattisgarh. To attract the internationals tourists, a variety of activities such as water sports, trekking, rock climbing, parasailing and bungee jumping are being promoted aggressively. In addition, the Board is focusing on highlighting the different USPs of tribal and anthropological heritages in the state that will work as a great pull for tourists around the world. For the same, the board has designed travel packages that showcase the best of Chhattisgarh to them.

Q : The state is planning to develop eco-tourism. How will you promote this niche tourism segment?

With nearly 40 per cent forest area and 34 per cent tribal population, Chhattisgarh offers immense opportunities for eco-tourism and ethno tourism. The state government is positioning travel and exploration of new destinations, cultures and communities as a major pull for tourists. With a greater potential of eco-tourism and plethora of world-class destinations, Chhattisgarh’s tourism is indeed growing by leaps and bounds. Amongst the major attractions of the state, hilly areas covered with dense forests are the important eco-tourist destinations.

The board is also planning to develop the Sirpur ecological area as an eco- tourism spot as it is the gateway to various nearby tourist places like Barnawapara Wildlife Sanctuary and Mahanadi, surrounded by dense forests. We also have plans to develop integrated ‘track routes’ to make the travel easy for the visitors. In the coming year, the Board has several plans to organize national level activities near Sirpur- Kodar-Raipur-Tandula Mega eco tourist circuit, that offer a variety of water-based activities and adventures to the tourists. To attract the niche tourism segment, we are planning to enhance the reach of hiking, camping and other adventure activities at one place while promoting a variety of activities in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries by combining them with various cultural festivities and activities. In next six months, we intend to develop various waterbased activities like fishing, sailing and speed boating especially in lakes and other water bodies.

 

Bhoramdeo temple in Chhattisgarh resembles the famous Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh

Bhoramdeo temple in Chhattisgarh resembles the famous Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Madhya Pradesh

Q : What is your marketing and promotional strategy?

As a part of our marketing and promotional strategy, the destinations/attractions are highlighted through various media, viz, print, online, television, etc. so as to increase the awareness of the destination among the potential tourist population. We have published our promotional literature in seven different languages, that is, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, English, Sinhalese and German. We have received National Tourism Award this year for the publication in the foreign language. Since we are promoting Buddhist Tourism, the market development strategies will concentrate mainly on attracting tourists from East and South-East Asia. Apart from this we are doing aggressive marketing to lure domestic tourists. The board is also active on social media for its day to day activities. We are also encouraging eco and ethno tourism on a larger scale by promoting natural tourism, adventure tourism, and water-based tourism across various locations in the state.

Talking about promotional activities, we are undertaking plans to organise road shows and other on-ground activities. This year, we are planning to have road shows in Banaras, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, New Delhi, Mumbai and other metro cities. Also we have participated in some leading global events for the travel industry such as World Travel Mart, UK and ITB Berlin.

Q : What are the challenges prevailing in the industry and what can be done to make the sector better? What initiatives have been taken by the ministry to accelerate the growth of the tourism industry in the state?

Creating awareness and attracting travellers to the state are the major challenges being faced by the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. Despite being world-class tourist destinations, most of the tourist spots in the state are unexplored and the greatest challenge is here to promote these destinations aggressively. Apart from traditional mediums and communication tools, the tourism board endeavours to focus on social media marketing platform that is accessed by a large number of audience and directly impacts tourists across the world. The board is aggressively undertaking various promotional and social media initiatives to attract tourists from around the world and is offering shopping vouchers and hotel deals in tourism board hotels through online and on-ground games and activities.

 

The 29 metre high Chitrakot Falls is located in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh

The 29 metre high Chitrakot Falls is located in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh

Some of the initiatives that the board has undertaken involve receiving INR 1.13 billion project prioritisation from the Union Ministry of Tourism. The board has also created a blueprint of polices that will be implemented strategically to establish Chhattisgarh as the most preferred eco-tourism destination in the country. The state tourism with greater participation of local communities will help in improving the Naxalism menace in the disturbed zones and create better employment opportunities for the locals. Going forward, the board is focusing on highlighting the distinctive features of state tourism, which create a large appeal for the domestic and international tourists.

Q : How has your participation in the international tourism fairs like the WTM in London been?

We have been participating in international fairs and the response so far is good. We participate in WTM London, Nordic Europe, ITB Berlin and we also take part in the road shows organised by ministry of tourism.

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