Close on the heels of Rajasthan government reopening some of its important monuments and tourist sites, the Madhya Pradesh government on Friday signalled the opening up of its tourism for domestic travellers, announcing reopening of its state-run hotels and resorts, along with several private hotels at tourist destinations.
Meanwhile, its forest department also issued a circular regarding re-opening of national parks such as Panna, Ratapani and Bandhavgarh from June 15.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sonia Meena, Additional Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board said: “We have opened up various tourist destinations pertaining to wildlife, heritage and pilgrimage, owing to their huge potential. This will also give a sense of ‘returning to normalcy’.”
She added that the authorities have sanitised and fumigated the premises of all such sites. “We are ensuring all hygiene and social-distancing norms and SOP issued by the Ministry of Tourism,” she said. Officials say the first segment of travellers the state is expecting are people from within and neighbouring states. Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by five states, and has a good road network connecting major tourist destinations.
As per the combined data of various survey agencies, domestic tourist footfall in the state for April 2019 was over 57 lakh, and for May 2019, it was around 50 lakh, while the numbers from the same months this year demonstrated a washout in the wake of Covid-19 lockdown. In April 2019, as many as 30309, while April this year recorded no new footfall.
Officials in the state’s tourism department add that even as it seems premature to talk about tourism figures in the post-Covid world, but “this reset period is for retrospection and make strategy for future tourism activities when normalcy returns.
While the state witnessed a steep revenue decline in the wake of lockdown, it sees a great potential in domestic tourism to cover some lost ground. “The first segment of the travellers we are looking to attract are people from neighbouring states coming to visit our wildlife, heritage, religious and adventure tourism sites because we are surrounded by five states and it is very easy to travel by car from neighbouring states to Madhya Pradesh,” says a statement by the state government.