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Last Updated : Sep 12, 2019 07:55 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Cash-strapped MP Tourism to rent heritage sites

The state tourism policy was tweaked to ensure that companies that own these hotels now would only take care of operations while handing over the lease money to the government every year

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Cenotaphs of Orchha -- A major tourist attraction in Madhya Pradesh (Pixabay)
Cenotaphs of Orchha -- A major tourist attraction in Madhya Pradesh (Pixabay)

The tourism department of Madhya Pradesh used to be known for its flamboyant and lucrative advertisements promoting tourism in the state. However, it is now grappling with severe economic stress and has already issued global tenders to sell off seven of its biggest properties. The hotels up for sale includes the renowned Ashoka Lake View hotel in Bhopal, Ujjain's Hotel Avantika, and Pili Kothi in Umariya.

According to a DNA report, the situation is so dire at the moment that state Tourism Minister Surendra Singh Baghel himself is making calls to visiting tourists, seeking their feedback.

What’s worse is that the department may soon start renting out heritage sites located in the state for weddings during the upcoming marriage season in the winters to ease out the fiscal crisis. The desperate measure comes as a last resort as the officials are running out of ways to fill the coffers of the department.

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Baghel blames the previous government of ruining the tourism department by exploiting the tourism corporation, which he claims to be one of the main reasons behind the falling fortunes. “We are making every effort to deal with this mess, and we are also talking to small tourist operators in the city,” said Baghel.

One must, however, note here that this is not the first time the state tourism department has relied on private operators to turn its fortunes. In 2016, when Shivraj Singh Chouhan was in power, his government gave away several top-notch state-owned hotels such as those in Datia, Khajuraho, Pipariya, and Katni private players.

Notably, the state tourism policy was tweaked to ensure that companies that own these hotels now would only take care of operations while handing over the lease money to the government every year. If any of the private players violates any term of the agreement, they will lose their rights over the property.

Umashankar Gupta, a former tourism minister of Madhya Pradesh, however, blamed the economic slowdown for the crisis and warned of the dangers of privatization. He stated that no one but the builders would benefit out of such a move.

 

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First Published on Sep 12, 2019 07:52 am
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