'Maharashtra's caravan policy aims to promote tourism, generate jobs'

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government’s ‘caravan tourism’ policy aims not only to provide a different experience to travel enthusiasts, but also promote tourism in the state’s remote areas and create job opportunities, an official has said.

The Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday approved the caravan tourism policy that seeks to give incentives to tour operators and at the same time boost employment opportunities in the pandemic-battered sector.

Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary of the state tourism department, said in a statement on Thursday, “The policy is expected to provide a different experience other than the traditional stays to the people who love to travel. It will promote tourism in remote areas and also create job opportunities.”

Travel enthusiasts can explore Maharashtra, which has an array of colorful shrines, historic caves, golden beaches lined with swaying palm trees, forests, heritage sites and hill stations, she said.

The caravan policy allows private players to get vehicles for tourism and set up caravan parks at public and private places.

It is an attempt to make the state even more popular in terms of tourism, she said.

A caravan is a specially-built vehicle used for the purpose of travel, leisure and accommodation.

These caravans will be equipped with facilities like beds for stay at night, kitchen, toilet, sofa and table for comfort of the travellers.

A caravan park is a place where such vehicles can stay overnight, where basic or advanced amenities and facilities, such as water refill, battery charging and disposal of sewage, is provided.

These caravan parks will be set up in the buffer zone of a forest, near a dam or the base of a hill fort.

Food courts will be available there and information regarding local sightseeing spots will be provided.

As per the caravan policy, the state government has allowed the use different sets of caravans like single-axle and twin-axle caravans, folding caravan, camper trailer, the statement said.

“We will set up caravan parking bays across the state.

The land available from irrigation, forest or revenue departments or the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will be identified and developed for this purpose.

These places will have basic facilities like electricity, water, security, safety.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed with private tour operators for its use,” she added.

Talking about the initiative, Dhananjay Sawalkar, director of directorate of tourism, said, “The caravan policy will also cater to the seasonal and the festive demands, particularly when there is a Kumbh Mela in Nashik or Pandharpur Yatra (annual pilgrimage), etc.

” There is a lot of demand from travellers for accommodation, especially in small towns.

So this caravan facility will cater to the demand, he added.

“We have allowed setting up caravan parks along the major highways in Maharashtra.

So, for overnight stay also these caravan will be useful,” he said.

According to Sawalkar, the transport department has given an incentive on the vehicle taxes, particularly those who are going to invest in caravans.

On the similar line, the tourism department is also giving incentives in the form of state GST, electricity duty, stamp duty, and commercial water charges.

All these benefits will be given to the caravan parks.

Apart from that, the tourism department will facilitate them to purchase land and also provide training and help for the marketing of these caravans, he said.

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