Rai Umraopati Ray
What are your plans to develop and upgrade tourism infrastructure in Tamil Nadu?
Under the visionary leadership of our honourable chief minister, Tamil Nadu has come up with an innovative scheme, The Tourism Destination Development Scheme, which has been framed to promote and develop tourism destinations all across the state which includes, adventure sites, and eco-tourism sites. The plan is to develop 10-15 locations every year into better tourist places with grants from the state government with good tourist facilities, new activities and attractions. This would serve two purposes as it will give jobs to the local people and secondly generate revenue for the tourism department in the long term. This is a big scheme, a milestone when it comes to development of tourism in Tamil Nadu.
Does the department follow any theme in selecting the destination for development for instance to promote religious tourism?
Presently, we are now following any theme to select the destination under the scheme. Religious tourism has always been important for us and Tamil Nadu stands very tall in this segment. We are concentrating on all the possible verticals like adventure destinations, eco-camping sites, caravan tourism and the likes. The plan is to improve infrastructure in about 300+ tourism sites. Kolli Hills, Yelagiri, Jawadhu Hills are being developed and there are plans to introduce activities in dam states like Chittar, Gundar and Kamarajar Sagar.
Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) is in the process of identifying trekking routes along which tourists can be safely taken during their visit. We are looking at operating cable-cars to hill stations. Destinations such as Udhagamandalam, Kodaikkanal, Megamalai and Kanniyakumar will be developed for rural and plantation tourism. Our vision is to make a tourist destination of every district, generate more employment and regulate all activities in the sector by framing guidelines. I also want to make Tamil Nadu a more tourist-friendly State.
Post Covid, domestic tourism has come up in a big way, how is Tamil Nadu catering to this segment getting more tourists to visit the state?
We are developing tourism infrastructure in the state at a fast pace. TTDC has taken a number of initiatives to promote tourism like meeting with relevant stakeholders, advertising our lesser explored tourist destinations, enchanting hill stations, marvellous temple towns and hospitality services on various travel platforms to inform travellers. We also welcome public-private partnerships (PPP). We are also planning to promote cruise tourism. Eco camping sites will also be set up in the forest and hilly areas. Fortunately for us, there has been a good demand among the Indian travellers and footfalls are expected to increase in the coming months
Is rebranding in the pipeline?
Yes, we have a new slogan, Where Stories Never End so that is the tagline of Tamil Nadu Tourism. Tourists coming to our state will have lots and lots of interesting and unique experiences and stories to tell, which will never end. So be it religious destinations, long stretches of exquisite beaches, range of mountains like Nilgiris, Velliangiri Mountains, Perumal Peak and culturally rich temple towns, there are varied kinds of landscapes in Tamil Nadu and there is something for all types of travellers.