What’s Kerala got that Maharashtra hasn’t? The issue came up during two separate meetings held by governor K Sankaranarayanan and chief secretary JK Banthia on Thursday regarding the state’s tourism potential and how to harness it. The governor asked the tourism department why it was spending just Rs 10 crore on advertising compared to Kerala’s Rs 90 crore, sources told this newspaper.
Kerala — the home state of Sankaranarayanan — and Goa have hefty budgets for publicity and marketing in the arena of tourism. The clear message was that Maharashtra should try to emulate such states to exploit the tourism potential of its rich cultural heritage and enticing destinations. Tourism minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who was present during the meeting with the governor, said his department was taking several measures and would augment them if higher budgetary allocations were made.
The meeting was one among three chaired by the governor during the day to take stock of programmes of tourism, social justice and housing departments at Raj Bhavan. Sankaranarayanan was told that for the year 2011-12, Rs 190 crore was the budgetary provision for the tourism department. A proposal for apportioning Rs 25 crore for advertising and marketing was forwarded but only Rs 10 crore was sanctioned, sources said.
A need for a separate directorate for tourism to regulate and implement enterprises and programmes was also discussed during the meeting, sources said. Apart from development of 28 major forts with tourist amenities, a master plan of Rs 49 crore for establishing a Buddhist mega circuit was underway, said the presentation. It also clarified that the state is pursuing the sea world project on the Konkan belt to attract visitors.
Meanwhile, during a meeting at Sahyadri state guesthouse at Malabar Hill, chief secretary JK Banthia asked the tourism department and the film city administration to commence Bollywood tourism from November this year. This will include taking visitors to witness movie shoots and allow them to interact with film personalities. Banthia also asked officials to ensure cleanliness at tourist spots.