‘From extraction to attraction’: Jharkhand launches new tourism policy4 min read
From extraction to attraction, the Jharkhand Tourism Policy 2021 envisages a new perspective for the state. Launching the policy on Saturday, Chief Minister Hemant Soren said some of the key focus areas for the state government would be employment, economic growth, sustainable development and preservation of art, culture, and heritage.
“Jharkhand has been seen as a reservoir of minerals since the time of the British rule. It has been a centre for extraction of minerals. Yet, the backwardness of the state’s tribal people is no surprise to anyone. We are now shifting our focus from extraction to attraction through this policy,” Soren said.
Among other areas touched upon in the new policy are religious, ecological, cultural, rural, adventure, wellness, and mining tourism. It also aims to set up tourism economic zones and a tourism development board, besides strengthening the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation.
Highlighting the scope for eco-tourism, Jharkhand Development Commissioner Arun Kumar Singh said: “People can just go and relax in the forests. Jharkhand has world-class infrastructure, with two airports at Dhanbad and Deoghar and no safety or security issues.”
A key strategy highlighted in the new policy involves conducting effective public awareness campaigns, particularly among tribal people, organising buyer-seller meetings to market tourism products effectively, and training all stakeholders in tourism promotion, marketing and tourism-related services.
Public-private partnerships (PPP) in the tourism industry are to be encouraged through Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) and Built-Lease-Transfer (BLT) modes. Foreign investments and technological collaboration of overseas investors will also be introduced to boost the sector.
The government aims to actively encourage both Indian and foreign private investment and participation in tourism infrastructure projects. It would also be prepared to participate in joint ventures for such infrastructure development projects.
The new tourism policy also includes strategic joint ventures with private tour operators for setting up tourist packages and services, upgrading the tourist information centres, and conducting a detailed assessment of tourism potential in every district.
After unveiling of the new policy, a teaser in the promo series ‘Postcards from Jharkhand’, highlighting the beauty and culture of Jharkhand, was also unveiled. The Jharkhand government has produced the series in a collaboration with National Geographic Channel.
“Jharkhand is nature’s hidden treasure, an example of culture and sustainable living. Its culture and scenic beauty have a huge untapped potential to attract tourists. These can help the state become a must-visit destination,” Soren said.
The state also plans to introduce the Jharkhand Tourism Home Stay Scheme, a bed-and-breakfast scheme of the state’s tourism ministry, on the lines of ‘Incredible India’.
The policy proposes to enhance connectivity in the state through liberal grant of road permits to tour operators and aggregators. The state government will also persuade the Union railway ministry to expand the railway network in the state.
It has also offered relief to airlines, assuring that the existing nominal fees/charges to encourage airlines to use state-owned landing facilities will not be increased during this policy period.
Under the policy, the government will provide a single-window system and 20-25 per cent capital investment subsidy (up to Rs 10 crore) and a reimbursement of 75 per cent of net GST paid for a period of five years, to those investing in the state’s tourism sector.
Other incentives include no levy of holding tax for five years, reimbursement of electricity duty and stamp duty, and captive power generating subsidy of 30 per cent up to Rs 5 lakh, among other things. The fiscal incentives also include interest subsidy at 50 per cent (up to Rs 20 lakh) for five years.
The government will also provide special provisions for women, ex-servicemen, differently abled and people belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
Speaking on the benefits offered, Soren said: “We have been watching mineral wealth and mines for long. Even today, many states are shining because of Jharkhand’s mineral wealth, but Jharkhand is still afflicted by various problems. That’s why we formulated this policy to accelerate economic development in rural areas.”
Talking of the effect of Covid-19 on the tourism industry, the CM said: “Many people suffered losses during the coronavirus pandemic, especially those associated with the tourism industry. This new policy will help them.”
Development Commissioner Singh said: “The unexplored state of Jharkhand, with exclusive availability of uranium, gold, bauxite and coal mines has a huge potential to be tapped and used for the state’s development.”
A tourist-friendly security force will be set up by involving ex-servicemen, who would be trained to prevent any inconvenience to the tourists. To prevent exploitation of tourists by various service providers, a legislation for facilitating tourism trade has also been enacted by the government.
The policy will remain in force for a period of five years from the date it comes into force or till the declaration of a new or revised Policy.