Malaysia Keen On Tourism Alliance With Rajasthan

Jaipur, September 16: | Updated: Sep 17 2003, 05:30am hrs
Taking cue from Singapore, the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board (MTPB) is studying the possibility of commencing chartered flights to Rajasthan given the common cultural tourism potential in both the regions.

Hit hard by SARS, MTPB saw its tourist inflow down to almost half. The tourist inflow came down to almost 50 per cent, said Mr Bupesh Kumar, a senior MTPB official told FE. It may be recalled that Silk Air of Singapre Airlines had earlier commnenced its chartered flights to Rajasthan in a big way.

Determined to overcome the negative fallout of SARS, Malaysia is now on an overdrive to woo globetrotters with free stays and international cruises at a nominal price tag.

We somehow managed to survive SARS by rerouting our cruises to the north, said Raquelle Thomas, manager, Star Cruises (India). Given the cultural similarities between Malaysia and India, officials from the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) feel that there is a big opportunity waiting to be tapped. By 2005, the state government has targeted overeall tourist arrivals to be 12 million with a growth of 5 per cent per annum.

With this, tourism is not only projected to be a major revenue earner but also a big player in generating employment in the state. Today, tourism makes a paltry 13 per cent of the share of the net state domestic product. Investments to the tune of Rs 1,267 crore have been projected by the department for tourism infrastructure development for the period 2002 to 2007.

Upgradation of the Jaipur airport to an international one is underway, says RTDC. Linkage roads and heritage site development are underway under the $350 million Asian Development Bank project work in six cities. Along with this, uninterrrupted power and an investment-friendly atmosphere have been promised by the government to investors. Proximity to Delhi and a plethora of wildlife and heritage sites are other unique selling point of Rajasthan, says an RTDC official.

The National Highway Development Project will be constructing highways of world standards to interlink major metros, he adds.