Tourism and Heritage


Maharashtra has recognised tourism as a major thrust area for economic growth in the state. The Budget 2002-03 for Tourism and Investment Incentive Package 1999 gives clear indications that the GoM realises the potential of tourism for wealth creation and employment generation. In 2001, Maharashtra received the highest numbers of international tourists and emerged as India’s second most used port of entry. At the same time in the domestic tourist arrivals, the state ranked fourth amongst other Indian states. The Travel and Tourism Industry including transport, storage & communication, trade, hotels and restaurants accounted for around 20-22 per cent of the GSDP and 3.5 per cent of the state’s employment. The government’s promotion and development initiatives to harness Maharashtra tourism potential reflect the state’s commitment to this industry.

In Maharashtra, the three world heritage sites located in the Sahyadri Mountain Range are the Ajanta and Ellora caves (Aurangabad) which were built more than 2000 years ago and the Elephanta caves (Mumbai) built more than 1300 years ago. The Konkan coast consists of scenic beaches like Ganpatipule and Guhaghar. Other fascinating tourist spots include the Bassein fort, Gateway of India, Afghan Church and the University with the Rajabai clock tower, the shrine of Haji Ali, Bibi Ka Makbara. Daulatabad, near Aurangabad, has an impressive medieval fortress on a pyramidshaped hill. In it’s the capital city of Mumbai, few of the main beaches are Alibaug, Aksa, Chowpaty, Erangal, Gorai, Juhu, Madh, Marve, Elephanta, Manori and Versova. Nashik on the banks of river Godavari is one of the ancient holy cities consisting of temples built in the 11th century by the Chalukyas.

Paradoxically however, along with the growing recognition of the importance of Travel & Tourism by the GoM, there seems to be a lack of appreciation of its scope, complexity and dynamism. This industry works beyond the local boundaries at a global level bringing together diverse industries and stakeholders. It encompasses the development of other areas of economic activity, as well as growth in the social and environmental context. Figure 1.11 shows the World heritage sites (3), National parks (5) and sanctuaries (35) in Maharashtra. The number within circle represents the number of sanctuaries in the corresponding region (MFD, 2005).

Mumbai’s CSIA is the second most utilised international airport in India catering to 26 per cent of foreign tourists, after Delhi. The government of Maharashtra realises that out of the 1.08 million tourists visiting
Maharashtra, only 5-6 per cent of foreign tourists move on to other tourist destinations in the state. Out of the total tourists visiting tourist destinations in Maharashtra, only 10-12 per cent are of foreign origin and
not many of the 26 per cent of all foreign tourists who enter the country through Mumbai, spend time or money in the State. Maharashtra’s share in total domestic tourist arrivals in India is 3.6 per cent. Out of
the total tourist visiting Maharashtra, about 15-20 per cent from other Indian states. The majority in Maharashtra contains domestic tourists from within the state. Figure 1.12 indicates the total number of tourist arrivals between 1997-2000.

Major national and international hotel chains – including Taj, Oberoi, Le Méridien, Best Western, Hyatt and ITC have already established hotels and resorts in the state. The latest year for which a detailed breakdown of hotel accommodation supply is available is 2000.

The role of tour operators in Maharashtra has been limited. According to statistics available till 2000, there were 24 tourist transport operators, 78 travel agents and 24 tour operators approved by the Ministry
of Tourism in Maharashtra. International tour operators like Cox and Kings, Thomas Cook and national leading operators like Sita Travels, Raj Travels, Raja Rani tours have offices in Mumbai, though they
mostly cater to outbound market and national market. Niche tour operators for Maharashtra are very local and offer basic packages for travelling to religious and heritage destinations here. Recently, with a view to
increase the role of the private sector, a joint task force, focusing on private-public sector partnership, is being set up with major industry players and other stakeholders as members, to act as advisors to the state government with regard to tourism development activities

The WTO, WTTC, IH&RA amongst others, have taken a keen interest in harnessing its use in tourism. The National Action Plan for Tourism has identified 21 travel circuits, 12 destinations and 33 pilgrim centres which include destinations/places of tourism potential in remote/hilly areas for intensive development through the joint efforts of Central and State Governments and the private sector in order to strengthen infrastructure facilities. From Maharashtra, the travel circuit of Raigad Fort -Janjira Fort-Kuda Caves, Sirivardhan, Harihareshwar, Sindhudurg, the destination of Ajanta-Ellora (Aurangabad) and Pilgrim Centres of Shirdi, Nanded and Jyotiba have been identified. The government has played a central role in tourism for Maharashtra, while that of the private sector has been more than supportive.

In Maharashtra, the primary government agency responsible for the growth and development of tourism is Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), which since its inception is working to boost the
tourism industry in the state undertaken with the main thrust, to market Maharashtra as a premier global tourism destination, thereby generating employment and enhancing productivity through tourism, the
award-winning promotion campaign - ‘Maharashtra...Unlimited’, has been created by MTDC to highlight the unlimited potential of the state.

It has also commissioned many master plans for various regions of Maharashtra such as Sindhudurg, Vidarbha, Ajanta-Ellora, and other forts. MTDC’s budget outlay for tourism has increased ten-fold as compared to its previous budget. Its present budget of Rs. 101 crores has been segregated as – Rs. 55 crores has been allocated for Ajanta Ellora, Rs. 12 crores for Ashta Vinayak, Rs. 5 crores for the Konkan Riviera, Rs. 5 crores for wildlife and eco-tourism in the Vidarbha region and Rs. 10 crores for Shivneri. In addition, Rs. 7.95 crores has been sanctioned purely for publicity and promotion, a seven-fold increase over last year.

Major Tourism Projects
Ajanta -Ellora Project
Impressed by the successful completion of phase-I project on conservation and development of world heritage sites, Ajanta and Ellora, assisted by Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), the Bank
has approved assistance for phase-II of this project. This phase of the project focuses on integrated development of infrastructure around the site and expected to be completed by the end of June 2008. The details of work on Ajanta-Ellora Development Project Phase-II are given in Table below