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Centre approves Rs 1,200 cr for Guj tourism

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government`s plan to boost coastal tourism has received a shot in the arm as the Planning Commission has approved Rs 1,200 crore special grant for the project.

The Planning Commission gave its nod for the special grant during a high-level meeting between its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, held on June 1 in Delhi.

To boost coastal tourism, the state government has chalked out a project which includes developing 10 beaches on the 1,600 kms coastline area of Gujarat.

Though Gujarat has got the longest coastline in the country, coastal tourism in the state has been very low due to lack of infrastructure available at its beaches.

"Gujarat government submitted a proposal for a coastal tourism project in the state and a special grant of Rs 1,200 crore was approved after considering its merits," state tourism secretary Vipul Mitra said.

"The Centre will allocate the amount of fund in a span of five years and an amount of Rs 306 crore will be released in the current year itself. The disbursement this year will also include one-time immediate grant of Rs 70 crore," he added.

The ten beaches that are proposed to be developed are Nargol, Tithal in Vadodara district, Gopnath and Bhavani beach in Bhavnagar district, Sarkeswar in Amreli district, Ahmedpur Mandvi and Madhavpur in Junagadh district, Miyani in Porbandar district and Pingleshwar and Mandvi in Kutch district.

Tourism in the state has received a boost following an advertisement campaign `Khushboo Gujarat Ki`, featuring Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who is brand ambassador of the state. .

The state government plans to develop infrastructure at the ten beaches so that tourists get good stay facilities and activities like water games.

Infrastructure development activities include construction of approach road from main road to beach site, creation of entrance plaza with defined entry points to the beach, construction of view points and rest huts with local materials, provision of light posts and high mass illumination, construction of pay and use toilets, drinking water and children play equipment.

The plan also includes development of parking area, roads, electricity, sewerage system, motels, hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, tented accommodation and caravan facility around the beaches.

Apart from the ad campaign `Khushboo Gujarat Ki`, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited had also organised some roadshows in important cities and hosted festivals like Saputara monsoon festival, Rann utsav and kite festivals.

The number of tourists visiting Gujarat has gone up in last two years. As per the latest data available, the number of tourists in FY11-12 was 2.23 crore, an increase of 25 lakh, as compared to the 1.98 crore in FY10-11.

After the launch of `Khushboo Gujarat Ki` campaign, in the last two years there has been an increase of tourists by 54 lakh. In 2010-11 also, tourists arriving in Gujarat had increased by 28 lakh to 1.98 crore, as against 1.70 crore in 2009-10.

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