To boost tourism the Madhya Pradesh government has mapped an innovative strategy for 2024. Besides introducing new elements, the government plans to revamp and broaden the existing schemes to add more vibrancy to the sector.
Cruise tourism, all-women rides, safety of women, wellness and rural vacations will be an integral part of the 2024 trajectory.
“We designed a multi-pronged strategy for tourism in 2023. In 2024, the plan is to make it more holistic, inclusive, sustainable, eco-friendly and adventure-packed,” says Principal Secretary Tourism Sheo Shekhar Shukla.
Cruise Tourism, New Trails
“We have a buoyant plan for cruise tourism in 2024. The main attraction will be the nearly 130 km inter-state cruise on river Narmada from the Statue of Oneness in Omkareshwar to the Statue of Unity in Gujarat. Floating jetties are already being put in place for this,” says Shukla who is also the Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board.
The multi-option, multi-destination cruises, will be punctuated with rural experiences in between the two destinations.
Elaborating on other cruise projects lined up for 2024 Shukla said that plans were afoot to link the Rajhat Dam near Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh to Deogarh in Uttar Pradesh.
“Long distance, intra-state cruises will be a new attraction for 2024,” he added.
Intra-state cruises from Miakal Resort in Bargi near Jabalpur to Tindini in Mandla district, Dharaji in Dewas to Sailani Tapu east of Omkareshwar, Sanjit village to the tent city of Gandhi Sagar are also on the anvil. The Tawa-Madhai cruise will be given a facelift by adding new experiences.
Identifying and developing new trekking trails in various buffer zones of National Parks/Sanctuaries will form part of the 2024 tourism strategy.
There will be promotion of state through different biking trails and car rallies. A special attraction – The Queens on the Wheel—an all women seven-day biking event – slated for February 2024 will take the riders on an adventurous ride from Bhopal to Orcha to Bhopal via Chanderi, Kuno, Gwalior, Mitawali, Padavali, Bateshwar, Orchha and Khajuraho.
“We have elaborate plans to develop many new off-beat destinations thereby leveraging the USP of our State.”
Catalyzing Connectivity, Wellness Vacations
In a bid to enhance connectivity between the various destinations, the tourism department is working to reintroduce small aircrafts under PPP.
“This is the best time to re-start this as the tourism sector has now bounced back after a post pandemic lull,” adds Shukla.
The 2024 calendar will have retreats for yoga and meditation.
“Wellness vacations offers much beyond diet and physical nurturing. The retreats will have a number of creative offerings. I am confident that the endeavor will spiral the tourist graph of the state,” says Shukla.
The plan is to host 12 such retreats in the first year followed by 24 and 36 in the second and third consecutive years. The retreats would be hosted in the select hotels owned by the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation.
Offbeat destinations, Rural Tourism
In 2024 plans are up the sleeve to connect atleast 10 unexplored destinations with the mainstream tourism. The process for tapping the offbeat destinations had kick-started in 2023 and in 2024 this will take a more robust shape.
“The thrust will be on connectivity and infrastructure development of these destinations. We want to map a holistic development of these places,” maintains Shukla adding: “The concept of building glamping sites with multifarious immersive experiences around these destinations had started in 2023. In 2024, besides increasing the number of tent cities we will make them more tourist friendly.”
While the contours of Rural tourism were sketched during pandemic days, this will be widened in 2024.
Maintaining that the number of home stays would be increased to more than 500 in 2024 he said: “We would be introducing new village life experiences that are innovative and in sync with the rural life.”
Shukla said that safe destinations for women will be a priority and various initiatives were underway for mass skilling of women in hospitality related job roles to increase their strength in various front line jobs. “The Board has already trained more than 4000 women and in 2024 we propose to absorb more of them in the hotel and travel industry.”
An upswing for MP tourism in 2023
After battling an inclement weather due to the pandemic, tourism in Madhya Pradesh bounced back in 2023, thanks to the steadfast efforts made by the state government.
Introduction of new circuits, festivals and setting of tent cities at offbeat destinations, providing rural experiences were some of the hallmarks of 2023.
The first editions of Kuno and Chanderi festivals got a good jumpstart while the Mandu and the Gandhi Sagar Floating Festival made novel ways to attract visitors including the sprawling ultra- luxurious tent cities built around these destinations
“Our objective for starting the festivals at Kuno and Chanderi was to knit tourism with culture and wild life. We have got a good feedback from tourists,” says Shukla.