Even as tiger reserves and safaris stand closed from July to September every year due to rains, Madhya Pradesh is uncertain about discounting entry fee at its monuments to attract tourists.
The ‘Heart of India’, Madhya Pradesh, has re-opened many tourist spots such as its state-run and private hotels and resorts, as well as monuments, and is allowing in tourists from within the country. The Madhya Pradesh Forest Department also re-opened its national parks with effect from June 15, 2020. However, they will stand closed from July 1 up until September 30 as they do every year due to the rains. But the national parks’ buffer zone will remain open even during the monsoon. The expectation is that tourists will actually start arriving from October when India celebrates ‘Wildlife Week’ every year from October 2-8
Sonia Meena, IAS, Additional Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board, says, “Opening up tourist attractions gives a sense of ‘returning to normalcy’. Hotels at tourist destinations are opening up gradually and are offering attractive discounts to tourists coming to visit. Of course, all hotels and restaurants in the state are following social distancing and hygiene guidelines issued by the Ministry of Tourism and the state administration. Entry fee to the monuments is already nominal and further discounting is not yet decided.”
She adds that the state is also training tourist guides on safety precautions. “Not just guides but also staff at the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC), vehicle drivers – all have been given guidelines and necessary trainings,” she says.
Meena expects tourists from neighbouring states travelling to nearby destinations in Madhya Pradesh by road. “Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by five states and we have designed short itineraries for various travel circuits. Hotels at these destinations have opened up and offering attractive discounts also,” she adds. The tourism board has also introduced luxury caravans for travellers who wish to explore the state while minimising physical contact.