By Archana Sharma
Jaipur, Dec 13 (IANS) The tourism stakeholders in Rajasthan are upset with the funds for the tourism sector being slashed to Rs 114.45 crore for the year 2019-20 in the Congress government’s budget. It was Rs 179.23 crore for the year 2018-19 under the earlier BJP government.
“The Rajasthan government silently slashed the fund provision for tourism at a time when the sector remains a milking cow for the state. Surprisingly, tourism minister Vishwendra Singh also maintained a stoic silence and didn’t speak a word for his ministry in the presence of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and did not pitch for higher funds for tourism.
“May be, the Chief Minister is more powerful in this government and hence he knows how to silence his ministers,” said a senior office-bearer of a travel trade association speaking to IANS on condition of anonymity.
Rajasthan Tourism considers Kerala as its key competitor. However, Kerala has a provision of Rs 400 crore for tourism. Can we compete with a mere Rs 100 crore with Kerala? he questioned.
This is a time when the state required higher funds as Jaipur has been declared as world heritage city by Unesco.
“Stakeholders should have been consulted and a sketch should have been drawn for a better picture. But I have no information that any stakeholder has been consulted yet by the state tourism ministry,” he added.
Another travel expert, Sanjay Kaushik, said “Rajasthan presently faces stiff competition from its neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat and southern states like Kerala. They all are spending big to attract tourists; we also need to follow them on marketing activities, promotion and advertising. Tourism is the lifeline for Rajasthan and hence there needs to be more budget for tourism. A strong tourism industry in the state will lead to a stronger economy which means more employment creation. Hence, we need to have more publicity and a strong infrastructure,” he added.
As per the records of the state finance department, a provision of Rs 114.45 crore was made for tourism development for the year 2019-20 in the Congress government’s budget announced in July this year while for 2018-19, a provision of Rs 179.23 crore was made for tourism development under the BJP government.
When IANS spoke to tourism minister Vishwendra Singh he asked this reporter to talk to the director of the department of tourism. Due to the director’s unavailability in his office, IANS contacted another senior official who requested anonymity but confirmed that funds have been slashed this year.
“State government knows better how to make maximum utilisation of funds. If the funds are reduced, may be its done for a good reason. May be last year, the previous government had some big projects which required huge funds and this year those projects have been scrapped. The Congress government has slashed funds for many departments this year because of a cash crisis,” he added.