Niche segments take off in Madhya Pradesh with launch of Jal Mahotsav

The state has unveiled an annual festival which aims to promote water based tourism, besides highlighting local art, folk music and culture. The move signals state’s intent to diversify its offerings at a time when the discourse for adding new elements to the national tourism bouquet is intensifying.

Om Vijay Choudhary1Madhya Pradesh is all set to add an illustrious product to its already vibrant tourism offerings in the coming month. ‘Jal Mahotsav’, as the recently launched annual event has been named, will be essentially spanning for ten days, giving visitors one of a kind opportunity to experience a heady concoction of state’s tradition and customs, besides engaging them in an array of water sport adventure activities. Located in the Hanumantiya Island of Khandwa district in the reservoir of the mighty Indra Sagar Dam – which is one of the biggest manmade water reservoirs in Asia – the event is aimed at creating a new element in the form of water based tourism. It is expected to play host to a number of activities which include local sightseeing, paragliding and treasure hunt, to name a few. The first edition of the event will be held from 12th to 21st February. Commenting on the launch, Tanvi Sundriyal, Additional Managing Director of MPSTDC said that “MP Tourism has taken this initiative to raise this awareness through Jal Mahotsav, which is an enthralling mix of cultural performances and adventure activities taking place against the beautiful background of the Indra Sagar Dam.”

It remains no secret that MP has done reasonably well in promoting and capturing a major share of spiritual, religious and wildlife based tourism. This recent foray into water based tourism must be viewed as an attempt by the state to diversify its gamut of products which will help it in escaping over-dependence on few established pegs of its offerings.

It may come as a surprise to many, but Madhya Pradesh has ample water resource despite its handicap of being a landlocked state – courtesy its Rivers. We were told that the state had identified ten such grand water bodies that could be further developed to create new attractions for travellers. “Possibilities are endless. We are committed to developing water based tourism in the same way we developed religious, wildlife and spiritual tourism. It is our next major area of focus,” said Executive Director Om Vijay Choudhary.

No matter how grand ideas are, steering them, however, to execution at the grass-roots has always been a difficult proposition for states. There are a plethora of permissions and clearances that are needed to be put in place. But, what is more challenging is to create a new product out of scratch. There is always a lurking fear of failure and loss in investments – which deter private players to test the water. Tanvi Sundriyal, however, argued that the responsibility of making headway for a new product or a destination lied with the state. “We cannot expect private players to create infrastructure from scratch. We have shown the way. We hope that when private players see assets functioning well and attracting tourists, they will bolster the available infrastructure to take it to the next level,” she said.

Alleviating concerns of over-exposure and ecological degradation of pristine flora and fauna in the vicinity of the Indrasagar Dam, representatives of the MPSTDC stressed that the state remained firmly committed to responsible development, ensuring that no harm was done to the sensitive ecology of the region. Om Vijay Choudhary said that their primary concern remained maintaining the sanctity of any destination they wanted to promote. “We will ensure that all laid guidelines by various government bodies are adhered to in letter and spirit.” He informed us that the master plan of this particular undertaking was approved for an area spanning in excess of 500 kilometers. Adding that all the planned development was to be done inside that approved area, he said “we are well ahead in terms of ensuring that clearances are obtained. Any opportunity for tourist experience and investment into the state will not be caught in the web of formalities.”

This development is, indeed, laudable. It comes at a time when the nation is yearning for infusion of new products and destinations into its repertoire. It is a lesson for other states to move beyond their comfort zone and established products to set in motion fresh and innovative ideas to create new attractions.

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