‘With disease outbreaks, we must bring about paradigm shift in how travel & tourism is perceived’, writes Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Principal secretary, Culture and Tourism, MP Govt

08:52 PM Nov 18, 2021 | Sheo Shekhar Shukla

Madhya Pradesh – A Destination for Eco-Conscious travelers. At the heart of this vast and ancient land of India, lies Madhya Pradesh, a state that has earned the title: "The Heart of Incredible India." Not just for its geographical location, but for it's microcosm that is on the offer - from lush, wilderness that is abound with wildlife to the many forts, monuments and stately palace showcasing its rich history, cliffs of marble shining in the moonlight to ancient caves and cave paintings from the bygone millennia, temples and stupas with intricate carvings, Madhya Pradesh is full of heritage, culture, cuisine and natural beauty.

The biggest attractions of Madhya Pradesh are no doubt, unmatched wildlife and heritage and both these areas have seen continuous growth, progress and development of tourism since Independence.


As a result of the focus on these themes, our rich protected forests are home to the highest number of tigers and leopards on the sub-continent and we have 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites to boast of in Khajuraho, Bhimbetka and Sanchi.


The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the tourism industry hard, with travel coming to a near stand-still in most countries of the world. As an industry, we have taken immediate action to restore and re-activate the sector in order to protect all tourism stakeholders, big and small, direct and indirect and especially those who are the most vulnerable in this chain and who are hardest hit by the sudden impact of the pandemic.

In Madhya Pradesh, domestic tourism is helping to soften the blow, as we see a quick restart with a surge which is helping to mitigate the impact on jobs and businesses. This crisis offers an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism is developing measures to build a more resilient tourism economy post COVID-19. Tourism is at crossroads and the measures put in place today will shape the tourism of tomorrow. We are considering the longer-term implications of the crisis, while supporting the need to lower the carbon footprint and promoting the structural transformation needed to build a stronger, more sustainable and resilient tourism economy.

We are working on plans to support the sustainable recovery of tourism by moving to a greener tourism space. We are focussing on regenerative and eco-tourism measures, and hitherto unexplored areas such as rural and tribal tourism, as travellers demand a meaningful and elevating holiday, moving away from a “synthetic” to an “authentic” experience.

We expect to see a growth in caravan holidays, glamping and homestay oriented travel as lockdown-weary travellers seek out greener, unexplored, off-beat pastures and opt for lesser known destinations which are not crowded.

We are keen to offer new tourism products that are aimed at families travelling together – from nature trails to hiking, from river rafting to hot air ballooning, we plan to integrate experiencesthat will appeal to every member of the family.

“Jalmahostav,” our annual water sport festival has already put us on the map for soft adventure based activities which promise to be fun for all age groups.

From the industry perspective, we are eager to reinvent the tourism experience towards unconventional and more diverse destinations. Tourism experts are unanimous in their view that the crisis will provide new opportunities to develop community-based inclusive tourism businesses in rural and remote areas.

As people search for small-scale and quieter destinations for longer stays, there will be more opportunities for locals to improve and run their own businesses making Atma Nirbhar Madhya Pradesh & Vocal for Local a reality.

Globally, it has been observed that travellers are personalizing their trips through destination adventures. Tourism spending is shifting away from “accommodation” to “activities.” Instead of spending on luxury accommodations, travellers are saving money for destination experiences. Many tourists are booking activities before they travel, which suggests the in-destination experience has a bigger impact in the overall tourist decisionmaking process.

Many adventure activities, such as fossil discovery, isolated farmland stays, water sports and food festivals have become the main reason for travellers to visit a destination in the first place.

Madhya Pradesh is well positioned to leverage this trend with its myriad offerings that include rock art sites, fossil parks, major water bodies strewn across the state and for the delectable cuisine that the state has to offer – from the royal dishes of Bhopal to the street foods of Sarafa Bazar, Indore.

The pandemic has amplified the importance of good health and has raised public awareness of the many dimensions of wellness.

In Madhya Pradesh, we are gearing up our tourism products to offer not just physical wellbeing but an allencompassing wellness mechanism that caters to a sound mind and a balanced spirit as well. Wellness, in its true sense is not just about Ayurveda or Yoga or meditation but a combination of several factors (serene environment, healthy food, physical activity, spiritual practices and mental relaxation) that leads to a feeling of peace and lightness of being.

In the near future, we anticipate that Madhya Pradesh will offer holidays in which body, mind and spirit are integrated in a holistic way, so as to help travellers rejuvenate themselves.

There are many complexities and uncertainties staring at us but we believe that our efforts in tourism will transform it into a more community-based, holistic, green and eco-friendly model.

The world has seen many worrisome disease outbreaks in the past twenty years, including SARS, MERS, Zika and Ebola etc which are an indication that in the foreseeable future, we must contemplate a world where we adapt to a new norm and bring about a paradigm shift in how travel and tourism is perceived.

We at Madhya Pradesh Tourism are looking to employ tourism methods that generate maximum value at social, cultural, ecological and financial levels. Tourism contributes more than seven percent to India’s GDP and therefore it is most crucial to ensure that the sector adopts practices that are sustainable and actually serves both tourists and host communities with net tangible benefits.

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