Madhya Pradesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) at London recently to exploit the state's tourism potential.
The minister for tourism, Ajay Singh, signed the MoU on behalf of the state while Jean Cloude Baumgarten signed it on behalf of the WTTC during the four-day World Tourism Mart at London. The World Tourism Mart was held at London from November 12 to 15.
The WTTC would devise measures to attract domestic and foreign tourists to the state.
"MP has a good tourist potential and we should not underestimate it. MP comes third for the WTTC after Rajasthan and Kerala," Singh said.
He said the state will be one of the favoured tourist destinations of the world if its roads and infrastructure are of required standard.
Singh hopes that the roads connecting to various tourist destinations would be upgraded by 2002.
"We would also shift our focus to domestic tourists. A plan is also taking final shape for a Palace on Wheels (though in MP it would be called the Heart of India), a special train for domestic tourists which will cruise various tourist circuits in the state," he said.
Singh also said that his Government had shelved the plan of selling hotels of the MP Tourism Corporation.
"The increased budgetary support will also help us improve facilities at various tourist places," he said.
According to the MoU, the WTTC will also extend its active cooperation to strengthen the economic base and build infrastructure with an objective to promote tourism.
Available resources would be utilised to concretise tourism-friendly infrastructure in consonance with the aspirations of tourists.
Basic infrastructure facilities to be maximised include transportation, water and power supply, lying of sewerage, drainage lines etc.
The state would explore the possibilities of tourism development and develop 'tourism satellite account' for wider publicity.
In addition the council will also extend all possible cooperation to create a distinct identity for Madhya Pradesh as a favoured tourism destination. The focus will be on the monuments of archaeological and cultural importance in the state.
An effective taxation system will also be evolved to promote tourism activities for generating income, said the MoU.
Keeping in view the varied and sensitive ecosystem of the state, the council would facilitate the state's efforts in evolving a policy for wildlife and forest tourism, which is ecologically and environmentally sustainable, added the MoU.
Innovative use of e-commerce and latest computer technology would also be promoted. WTTC is the global business leaders' forum for travel and tourism. It explores employment opportunities, while promoting tourism industry and encouraging socio-economic infrastructure.
The council forecasts that India would have 25 million new jobs in tourism industry by 2010. The council has already launched its activities in India from February 2000.