After its two destinations entered the UNESCO heritage list, Telangana is making sure that they spread the word around and lure more tourists to the state. Uppala Srinivas Gupta, Chairman, TSTDC, shares what kind of initiatives they have taken in the state to boost tourism not only in its capital Hyderabad, but also beyond that.
Uppala Srinivas Gupta, Chairman, Telangana Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC), shared that Ramappa temple and Pochampalli village have been included in the UNESCO heritage list. “Pochampalli is famous for handicraft, and one sari made there can even be packed into a small matchbox. Ramappa temple is also seeing a huge number of visitors everyday,” he said.
Informing about Haritha hotels, which come under Telangana Tourism, Gupta said that there are total 50 properties under the brand and all of them have full occupancy at present. “We have Haritha properties in every district of Telangana, including Khammam, Suryanagar and Nirmal, which are good for staying. This allows middle-class people also to stay in a hotel by paying only around `1,000-1,500. It is not just meant for luxury travellers anymore.”
He informed that people in Hyderabad can enjoy boating at Durgam Cheruvu suspension bridge. “There are speedboats and around 50 people can be accommodated together in a boat. Other than that, at Tak Bund there are 10 boats, and one can do a function of as many as 100 people, like birthday and conference meeting for around two hours. People can book the boats in advance, where they can do two rounds of the Buddha Statue in Hussain Sagar Lake,” said Gupta.
“The chief minister and the tourism minister are making sure that tourism development is happening in every place in Hyderabad. We are developing pharma and medical tourism everywhere. Yoga and alternative therapy resorts are being developed. Business tourism, health tourisms, and eco-tourism are also being explored,” he added.
He also informed that Telangana Tourism, along with Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), has started bus packages, which allows people to travel to Tirupati from Hyderabad for `3,700 round trip for one person. “This includes darshan as well as accommodation, travel and food. Around 350 people do darshan daily through this package and in Hyderabad 3-4 buses operate daily for this. There are two to three-day packages. If 50 people are there from one gated community, pick and drop can be done at the door for them. They don’t need to come to the bus stop if they live in 50 km radius of the city,” he informed.
Telangana is also looking at Caravan tourism. “We will start caravan tourism this year, for which we have acquired two buses. It will be a good product for families,” he said.
He highlighted that for ecotourism, there is around 70,000-acre forest land in Adilabad and Nirmal districts. “There is also Haritha hotel and boating there amidst lush forests. There is also Laknavaram, which is like an island and the Haritha hotel rooms there are in water and the restaurant serves everything from biryani to South Indian and North Indian food. One can do boating here as well,” he said.
Gupta informed that while the state doesn’t have its own signature tourism event, they participate in a number of events internationally and domestically. “We are making use of digital media and we are on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. We also went to WTM London with the tourism minister, MD and other officials. We did promotions on behalf of Telangana and we had put up a stall of Ramappa temple. We also participated in exhibitions in Washington DC, USA,” he shared.
There is a lot of development happening in Telangana under Public Private Partnership (PPP). “People are coming forward to open restaurants and hotels, and we are sanctioning money as well for tourism development along with the private sector. While the tourism policy is still pending, in Vikarabad, we are promoting health tourism project spread over 250 acres, where one can opt for Ayurveda, Yoga, Ayush, weight loss, etc. Instead of going to Kerala for all this, now it is possible to do it near Hyderabad,” he advised.
Gupta shared that they can release the tourism policy within a month and they are taking inspiration and adopting best practices from other countries and states. “This would result in profit for both the investor, as well as tourism. We received a number of accolades, including four national tourism awards last year,” he claimed.