Agartala, Sept. 26: Work on a rural tourism project at Banbithi near Khowai in the newly formed Khowai district of the state finally took off this June though the Centre had sanctioned funds for it in December 2009.
Tripura tourism minister Anil Sarkar revealed this in the Assembly on Monday, saying though the ministry of tourism had sanctioned the funds on December 22, 2009, the Tripura Tourism Development Corporation received it on March 14, 2012 — after a gap of more than two years.
The corporation released Rs 38.64 lakh to the rural development department on June 11, finally clearing the way for work to begin on the project.
In reply to queries from the Opposition, Sarkar said the government was keen on completing all projects in a time-bound manner but delay in sanction of funds by the Centre and other bureaucratic formalities delayed implementation.
The minister, however, quoted statistics to project healthy growth for the tourism sector in the state over the past few years. “We currently have 23 well-developed tourist spots and six rural tourism sites across the state and over the past three years, tourist arrivals in Tripura have grown steadily. In 2009-2010, altogether 3,25,694 tourists, including 4,763 foreigners, had visited Tripura. The corresponding figures rose to 3,59,296 and 5,290 in 2010-2011 and 3,66,281 and 6,550 in 2011-2012,” the minister said.
This growth in tourist arrivals is also reflected in the growth of tourism revenue.
According to data provided by the tourism minister in the Assembly, the state’s revenue from tourism in 2009-2010 was Rs 1.06 crore which rose to Rs 1.58 crore in the next financial year and then Rs 1.87 crore in 2011-2012.
“This data clearly shows what we have been able to achieve in the tourism sector over the past many years, though I am providing specific data for three years only.”
Sarkar said Tripura would have made major advances in the tourism sector had it not been plagued by insurgency.
Describing the programmes currently being implemented, the minister said the sculptural site of Unakoti in Kailasahar sub-division of North Tripura was being developed in various ways to attract tourists. “This is a major attraction for Saivite Hindus because it is the second biggest Saivite sculptural site in the country after Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu. We are developing it in an appropriate manner for all tourists and not only for the religious-minded ones.”
He said the Tripura Tourism Development Corporation was now working on continued infrastructure development at all tourist spots along with providing all facilities like Internet, road connectivity and entertainment. “We hope this sector will grow at a faster rate in the Twelfth Plan period.”