TN initiative to promote rural tourist centres

Special Correspondent

New infrastructure facilities planned

Bid to woo investors to tourism, hospitality projects

An exclusive eco-tourism wing would be set up

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government has come out with a new initiative for developing infrastructure facilities in and round rural tourist centres through an Infrastructure Gap Filling Fund.

It is being set up with assistance from Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Departments to provide a big fillip to tourism in the State, said Tourism Minister N. Suresh Rajan, while replying to discussions on the demands of the Tourism Department in the Assembly on Thursday.

Centres identified

He explained that infrastructure development measures would be taken up during 2008-09 at the Erwadi Dargah in Ramanathapuram District; Sikkar Singaravelar Temple in Nagapattinam district; Elagiri Hills in Vellore district; Kolli Hills in Namakkal district; E-Mandagapattu-Pallava Cave Temple in Tiruvannamalai district; Vandalur Zoo to the Otteri lake in Kancheepuram district; Odachery-Sivan Temple in Thiruvarur district and the Pulicat lake in Thiruvallur district, at a cost of Rs.410.80 lakh.

To woo investors to tourism and hospitality related projects, the Minister said the government would provide 20 per cent capital subsidy (up to Rs.10 lakh) for setting up motels on important State and National Highways leading to major tourism destinations. They have to meet high quality standards and get the approval of the Tourism Department.

An exclusive eco-tourism wing would be set up. “It will essentially monitor projects involving preservation of heritage, conservation of nature, wildlife, flora and fauna of the State. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation will establish an eco-tourism wing to help achieve this objective.”

Rope car

On the demand for rope car facility at Udhagamandalam hill resort near the lake, the Minister said the Tourism Department was awaiting a feasibility report from the consultant before entering into the tendering process as the project cost had escalated due to delay in implementation. “We have not shelved the rope car project…,” Mr. Rajan said.

While efforts are being taken to renovate existing tourist offices and tourist information centres at a cost of Rs.30 lakh, the Minister said steps were being taken to provide Internet facilities to tourist officers. Mr. Rajan said to popularise lesser known tourist centres, it had been decided to rope in the services of retired government employees and teachers as guides by training them.

To strengthen efforts to disseminate information to discerning tourists through 14 tourist offices located in different parts of the State, the government would establish tourist offices in Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Coimbatore and Chettinad to provide impetus to promotion of tourism in these places.

The Minister said the government had decided to provide 25 per cent concession on TTDC hotel accommodation charges to accredited journalists and their family members.

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