Devendra Fadnavis announces 2017 as 'Visit Maha' year

In a bid to attract foreign tourists, Maharashtra government today announced year 2017 as "Visit Maharashtra" year along with organisation of 'international travel mart' in September this year.

"We are also trying to host the meeting of SAARC tourism ministers in the state," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds Tourism portfolio, told the Legislative Assembly in the reply to a debate on the budgetary demands of the department.

Fadnavis said a 'single window scheme' would be created for the hospitality industry and number of permissions would be drastically cut down from about 140 to 20. The draft is being prepared and all departments would be taken on board before finalising it, he said.

Fadnavis told the House that a new tourism policy would be unveiled soon and that Aurangabad will be declared as a tourism district. He said tourism in the state will be developed through a transparent public-private-partnership (PPP) model and an integrated tourism development plan for Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg will be submitted for inclusion in the Central government's coastal tourism project.

Plans are also afoot to develop sea forts in Konkan region, he added. Fadnavis said his government would aggressively market the tourism sector and strive to develop Maharashtra as a tourism brand.

A proposal to declare the Lonar crater in Buldhana district as a mega destination project is being prepared. Similarly, the Nagpur-Bhandara-Chandrapur area would be developed for lake tourism, the chief minister said. He said the sea world project in Sindhudurg district in Konkan and the phase-III of Ajantha-Ellora preservation project will be vigorously pursued.

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