External affairs ministry of India is going to host the country’s first SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Tourism Summit in Aurangabad, in the second week of October to promote India’s tourism potential to the world. A World Buddhist Conclave is also being planned at famous historical places, Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, a western state in India. The three-day event will take place during Ajanta-Ellora festival starting from October 14 to October 16.
The SAARC tourism summit aims to tap FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) under the “Make In India” and “Make In Maharashtra” campaigns promoted by the government. Attendees will include the officials of SAARC countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka on day one. The second day would host tourism ministers from these countries.
Prospects for Maharashtra tourism
The coming two years are very important for the progress and prosperity of the tourism sector in Maharashtra. The year 2017 will be celebrated as “Visit Maharashtra Year”, as the state is aiming to revive from the low earning tourism sector in the past few years. One of the oldest cultural tourism spots in India, the Ajanta and Ellora caves, are suffering from depreciating footfall of the tourists in the recent past. It is expected that a certain push or promotion from the tourism ministry will restore its grandeur.
This event will primarily highlight the beauty and enigma of the historical Ajanta-Ellora caves. The Department of Tourism (DOT) is trying to fetch Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, to inaugurate the SAARC summit in October, as it would hold a huge publicity for the whole tourism of Maharashtra.
Buddhist Tourism circuit
The summit also aims to boost the Buddhist tourism in India as a niche sector and thus Aurangabad was chosen as the preferred venue for this SAARC event. There is also a proposal from MTDC (Maharasthra Tourism Development Corporation) to build a 900-acre Buddhist Centre at Ellora which is under construction.
The year ‘2017’ will be celebrated as ‘Visit Maharashtra Year’ and 2018 we will be celebrating on completion of 200 years of the discovery of the world heritage Ajanta Caves by British officer John Smith.
There would be a huge scope to organize Food Festivals, Handicrafts Festival in the city.
Celebrating the three-day Ajanta-Ellora Festival an excursion bus will run around the city. The summit plans to discuss the increasing importance of air connectivity of Jaipur, Udaipur and Nagpur to Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad.
However, there would be some hiccups too for hosting the Summit at Ellora as the place is huge, so the expenditure on showcasing the event is considered to be one of the most expensive tourism events in India. The summit is primarily focusing on tourism and commercial purposes as the place itself depicts that but the employment and the overall economy might not improve significantly.