Bihar will get a global platform in November to tap the tourism potential of the state overseas.
The state tourism department would make a debut in the World Travel Market-2012 in London this year. It would set up a pavilion at the global event from November 5 to 8.
State tourism minister Sunil Kumar told The Telegraph: “The Union tourism ministry has asked us (Bihar) to set up a pavilion in the WTM in London through a letter. Subsequently, chief minister Nitish Kumar has asked us to set up an impressive exhibition area in UK. We are working on a war-footing.”
The travel market is one of the most important gatherings for the global travel industry, which marked its 32nd anniversary in 2011. The enormity of the market can be gauged by the fact that the event marked an attendance of 47,776 people in 2011, with companies representing more than 189 countries.
This year, over 4,500 exhibitors are expected to participate in the event, which would provide an opportunity to promote products and services on a global business-to-business platform.
Explaining the tentative work-plan for setting up the Bihar pavilion, Sunil said: “We are in talks with our event manager regarding how to set up the pavilion. We are planning to put up replicas of important tourist spots pertaining to the rich Buddhist, Sikh, Ramayan, Jain and Sufi circuits. We could put replicas of Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, Asokan Pillar in Vaishali or ruins of ancient Nalanda University.”
He added: “Apart from the structure of the pavilion, we are planning to offer travel packages to important tourist destinations in Bihar. According to the tentative plan, the travel packages would be for three days-two nights and four days-three nights. The packages would include pickup from the source country, air travel to India, road travel to Bihar, accommodation in hotels at tourist spots and similar arrangements for the return journey.”
The industry bodies in the state have appreciated the tourism department’s move to take an aggressive approach towards promoting the important sites.
“The Bihar pavilion at the London market can prove to be highly effective in promoting the state tourism. It shows that the state is confident enough to project itself in front of the entire world. This would allow people from other countries to know about the rich heritage of the state. If the pavilion gets the expected response, there would be a surge in tourist inflow from across the globe. This would create numerous employment opportunities and augment growth in the state. However, we would also need to prepare ourselves by increasing the number of hotel rooms, training guides and ensuring other facilities,” said KPS Keshri, the president of Bihar Industries Association.
A few travel operators seemed sceptical about the overseas venture, though.
Shailesh Kumar, the chief executive of city-based Nalanda Travels said: “Though people from across the world would be able to know about Bihar through the pavilion, England is not a tourism market for the state. Buddhism sites dominate the state tourism and there are not many Buddhists in England. It is because of this connection that the main market for tourism is the Asian subcontinent. England’s tourism market is based on adventure, pleasure and business trips. Business-related tourism is negligible in Bihar, whereas restrictions on sexual freedom reduce the pleasure trip potential. I doubt what the tourism department would be able to reap from the London market.”