June 27, 2009 5:12:27 pm
With the Bihar government giving a fresh thrust to the tourism sector through enhanced budgetary allocation,the footfall of foreign tourists in the state has gone up by nearly four times in two years.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Bihar has shot up to over three lakhs in 2008,state’s Tourism minister Rampravesh Rai told reporters on Friday.
In 2007,the state witnessed an 87.79 per cent rise in tourist inflow as compared to the previous year and last year the rise was 100.97 per cent,he said.
Realising vast potential of Bihar,home to a number of Buddhist,Jain and Sikh shrines for pilgrim tourism,the NDA government substantially increased budgetary allocations to the sector after coming to power in November 2005.
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He added that while a meagre Rs three crore was earmarked for tourism for 2005-06,it was raised to Rs 30 crore in 2009-10.
He said the government’s efforts to rejuvenate and revitalise the once moribund tourism sector,which has been accorded the status of industry by the NDA regime,resulted in the number of domestic tourists growing by 17.79 per cent in 2008-9.
Rai said his department had formulated a tourism policy for providing even greater impetus to the sector in Bihar which would be presented to the cabinet for approval soon.
Principal Secretary of the department Rashmi Verma,who was also present,said it had been decided to build a five star hotel in the state capital and starred hotels at Bodh Gaya,home to the most sacred of Buddhist shrinesthe Mahabodhi temple and Rajgir.
The hotels would be constructed with public-private partnership and tenders have already been invited for the purpose with nine bidders including Tata-owned Taj group,ITC and Hyatt expressing their interest in the projects.
She said a new ropeway has been planned at Rajgir,which already has one,and Mundeshwari temple in Kaimur district. With a view to making travel more convenient for all tourists including foreign guests,steps were underway for broadening and strengthening roads linking shrines on Buddhist,Jain and Sikh religious circuits.
Talks were on with several aviation companies for increasing the frequency of international flights to and from Bodh Gaya airport and introducing domestic flights.
Measures were being taken for developing tourist sites at Vaishali,Jehanabad,Dobhi,Hisua,Maner,Kesaria,Lauria and Nandangarh,she said.
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