State Tourism Policy
Rich in its historical traditions and ancient splendor, the culturally rich Bihar has derived its name from "Vihar". It was called the land of "Viharas" for its having a good number of recreational sites where people enjoyed activities in serene surroundings by the side of ponds and lakes. Endowed with a rich cultural and religious heritage, Bihar was a seat of power of the vast and powerful Magadh Empire, whose might had checked further onslaught of Alexander the Great. Bihar was cradle of civilization and nerve centre of religious activities of Hindu, Boudh, Jain, Sikh and Islam.
It has seen rise and fall of prosperous empires. This is a land of ancient universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila, the seat of higher learning, which spread knowledge far and wide through its students coming from different countries of the world.
In this backdrop, Bihar has much to offer and showcase for promotion and development of tourism. The remnants of the two ancient universities, Nalanda and Vikramshila, the antiques and artifacts forming a treasure trove of Bihar's ancient heritage are already attracting tourists.
Bihar promises development of tourism to its optimum level. It has the sacred Ganga river as its lifeline and a huge water mass in form of many rivers and rivulets in North Bihar, the Gandak, Kosi and many more and the vitally important Son river which forms the lifeline in South Bihar. Bihar is surrounded by West Bengal in the East, Jharkhand in the South, Uttar Pradesh in the West and it has the international boundary in the North with Nepal.
Bihar was a seat of power of the magnificent Magadh Empire from 6th and 5th century BC when its great ruler, Ajatshatru, reined from its capital at Rajgriha (modern Rajgir). Later, in the Fourth century BC the Mauryan ruler and great warrior Emperor Ashoka wielded a vastly extended Magadh empire from its capital Pataliputra, the modern Patna. Ashoka turned to Buddhism and had woven well the unity and peace in a sublime thread of love, piety, harmony and sacrifice. Ashoka's edicts and pillars across Bihar and other parts of the country are the living examples of Bihar's rich cultural traditions and credentials attracting tourists including scores of Buddhists from across the world.
The great Gupta Empire of Magadh kingdom reined by the Gupta rulers from ancient Pataliputra had enriched art and culture heritage of the country in the 4th and 5th Century AD. The Pal rulers ruled here till 1197 AD. Bihar also mattered in the reins of the Muslim rulers from 12th to 17th centuries. A soil rich with cerebral power of fearless Biharis had much to offer in freedom struggle against British colonial rule. It even figured in the world politics of struggle against colonial powers when Mahatma Gandhi on his return from South Africa experimented Satyagrah first time in Champaran, which is famous as the karmabhoomi of Bapu against the exploitative Neel (Indigo) farmers of British origin. It has also the Ashoka�s installed pillar with Lion capital that has braved more than two millennia raising its head in all its splendors.
With its rich heritage of antiques, artifacts, historical facts and figures going into its favour, Bihar is a blend of beautiful and bountiful nature, natural resources, the vital sparkling pure water, important archaeological finds, and rich culture. It has been attracting domestic and foreign tourists from the ancient times. The Travelogues of the Chinese travelers Huen Tsang and Fa-Hien describe historical splendor of Bihar which offers much to tourists irrespective of their age and class.
Herein, lies the history of the young prince of Nepal, Siddharth, transforming into Lord Buddha by getting enlightenment through sheer penance at Bodh Gaya under the sacred Bodhi tree which is attracting the Buddhists tourists for ages from across the world. Bihar has 22 Nirvan Sthals of 24 Jain Tirthankars attracting the people following the Jain religion. Development of these tourist's sites has been undertaken on a large scale to promote religious tourism.
Tourism has established itself as 'smokeless' industry in the world and its role in the socio-economic development of a country is well established. Bihar government has also given tourism the status of industry and development works in this pursuit have been undertaken.
After division of Bihar many tourism destinations went geographically into the fold of Jharkhand state. Now Bihar needs afresh.Its new distinct Tourism Policy to be planned in a manner to promote tourism industry as a vital part of the vibrant economic activities of the state.
- Commercial Importance of Tourism:
Role of State Government:
- The world tourism industry accounts for direct employment to over 144 million persons and manifold indirect employment. For the present, however, India has 0.4 per cent share of world tourism.
- International tourism industry has 10.2 per cent share of the global GDP with 10.6 per cent of the global work force being engaged in tourism.
- In India tourism and travel sector generate employment to 9.3 million people with optimism of raising this to 12.9 million jobs to the people by 2010. This will mean the tourism industry providing job to one person out of 15 people by 2010 in the country.
- Every rupee spent by a tourist in the state changes hands thirteen times. Every hotel room generates direct employment to three persons and indirect employment opportunities to eight persons.
Timely execution of policies, qualitative improvement and up gradation of comprehensive master plan of the state with a focus on regional, sub-regional areas and tourist circuits etc.
- As a catalyst.
- As promoter, facilitator and infrastructure provider.
- As pioneer, planner and joint investor with private groups to boost tourism.
- As formulator of plans and policies.
- Maintenance of law and order.
- Deploying tourist police force.
- Disposing grievances.
- Standardizing quality of tourism product and services.
- Enacting suitable laws for tourism.
- Framing Rules and Regulations for tourism development.
Basic Infrastructure for Tourism:
- External assistance.
- Central assistance.
- State Government Assistance.
- Private Sector investment for a planned tourism development and creation of infrastructure.
- Keeping in view a great potential of tourism in Bihar, the creation of basic infrastructure for tourism development is imperative. Important components for infrastructural development are-- Arranging accommodation for increased number of tourists, building of highways on tourist circuits, international level airports with total aviation back up and facilities, local transport, rail routes linking tourist spots with full amenities and facilities, the vital telecommunication link, continuous quality electricity supply with elaborate arrangements, and other essential amenities.
Religious circuits for the Boudh, Jain, Hindu, Sikh, and Islam religions are to be developed with special work plans to promote religious tourism making the religious circuits attractive with suitable tour packages and facilities. Hindu, Boudh, Jain, Ramayan, Sufi, Gandhi and Eco tourism have to find profound expression in development of tourist sites and spots.
- The state government as well as the private sector shall contribute their mite in growth of tourism infrastructure with the state playing the lead role of a catalytic agent in some sectors. The state will endeavour to promote private sector participation in infrastructural development for the tourism industry.
- Efforts will be made to dovetail external assistance, central assistance and state plan resources with private investments to attain the set goals as under the Master Plan.
- The state government will prepare an area-based Master Plan for developing infrastructure as necessary for the respective areas and regions. Potential of the tourist destinations will figure in developing the tourism sector as per the Master Plan. The Master Plan will evolve Investment Plan for segment wise (area wise) tourism development. The investment plan would be further subdivided into annual action plans to achieve the set growth targets as per the directed goals under the Master Plan to be achieved in a time bound manner. New areas to be brought under pursuit of tourism development are water tourism, health tourism, Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga, Spiritual tourism, tourism entailing courageous feats, promotion of Shilp Gram (Crafts Village) and development of recreational facilities to attract tourists.
- Tourism entails multi-sectoral activities with participation of several agencies. Efforts will be made to coordinate the agencies participating in the tourism development endeavor by evolving suitable administrative mechanism.
- Accommodation is crucial component of tourism as it entails catering to different categories of tourists whose expenditure limits may be quite low to very high. This makes arranging for differentiated accommodations from economy class in big halls and dormitories to five star hotels and resorts. Such basic accommodations in different tourist destinations would be augmented.
- The state will endeavor to promote private investments in hospitality (hotel) industry on a major scale while restricting itself to invest only in the areas where there is slim possibility of private investments.
The state government would encourage establishment of Heritage Hotel movement in Bihar by identifying heritage buildings and mansions to convert them to Heritage Hotels in order to provide quality accommodation to tourists. This would save the precious heritage buildings and mansions from getting dilapidated with their quality face uplift and strengthening during conversion to Heritage Hotels.
Paying Guest Scheme:
Way side facility (Hospitality Resource Creation on Highways):
- The state government will explore and develop the possibilities for launching paying guest scheme by identifying and registering the houses, house owners and families interested in this stream of tourism development. Good facilities to attract the tourists would be the hallmark of this scheme.
- Way side facility is an important part of tourism. In this vein, comfortable rest houses fitted with basic amenities on highways� flanks, alongside the fuel filling stations (petrol pumps), would be created with public and private investments.
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation:
- In view of the constraints in availability of land for tourism infrastructure development, the department of tourism would in conjunction with revenue department and the local district administration simplify the rules and regulations for land allotment in order to create tourism infrastructure.
Investment in Core Structure of Tourism:
- Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation plays an important role in development of tourism. It is currently involved in providing accommodation, transportation, food and package tour arrangements. It has the facility of online bookings for package tours and travels, which is to be augmented.
- Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, monitored by its parent tourism department, would act as the nodal executing agency of the state government.
- The private-public partnership for tourism infrastructure development would be managed by the tourism department.
Joint Investment with Private Sector:
- Investments available through financial institutions will be promoted and encouraged. Proposals will be sent to the Tourism Financial Corporation of India for investment in tourism through the state government and the NRIs.
- A special cell will be opened to facilitate loan and the needed guidance to the entrepreneurs seeking involvement in tourism development.
Tourism as Industry:
- Private sector would be invited by the government to enter into joint venture to develop many important places whose tourism potential had not yet been tapped. The state government would lay down Rules and Regulations for such joint ventures.
- Regulations would be framed for developing tourism industry and the way to facilitate assistance to the entrepreneurs who endeavor to promote it. All facilities and incentives available for industry will apply to investment in industry sector.
Providing Air Taxi and Helicopter Services:
- With road transport being the nerve line of tourism, the construction of roads, their proper maintenance and availability of vehicles for the tourists would be given due priority. Besides, packaging of tour programme on the inter-state and intra-state bus routes interlinking the tourism spots and coordination among tour operators in this regard would be done with a focused approach.
Fair and Festivals:
- The state government shall endeavour to provide air taxi and helicopter facilities to the valued tourists. On the basis of demand creation the state government would try to link important tourist places through air taxi and helicopter services.
Tourist Information Centres:
- Keeping in with the tradition of organising the cultural and religious fair and festivals, the state government would integrate these to tourism . For this the department of tourism would identify the potential tourist spots where fair and festivals form the part of cultural life and develop such sites for a scheduled package tours and travels timing well during fair and festivals.
Development of Handicraft and Cottage Industry:
- Tourist information centres of the state government would be modernized well equipped with the modern information and communication technology (ICT)- computer, fax, internet, email etc. This would provide abundance of information to the tourists regarding tourist places, hotel bookings, transport facilities and the likes.
- Tourism development is interlinked with the development of handicraft and cottage industry. The state government would exploit this potential for which establishment of Shilp Gram (Craft villages), handicrafts market near the tourist place is in the agenda for tourism development.
Tourism with Wildlife:
- Developing tourists spots with an aim to attracting tourists from the neighbouring states would require a good amount of investment for creating shopping malls, eating outlets, theme parks and entertainment centres.
- Tourism linked with wildlife has a lot of potential for attracting domestic and foreign tourists. In order to promote wildlife tourism the state would develop wildlife sanctuaries, crocodile parks, snake parks, theme parks, children parks, monument parks, tourist house and restaurants.
- The government would select the right people, well behaved, educated and trained with good manners, good communication skills on the posts of guide and grant them licenses for being posted at different tourist spots. A versatile, pragmatic guide with a deft a approach in communicating the contents of tourist spots has to play a vital role in promotion of tourism. The state government would be looking forward to select such guides to brand a distinct style of tourism to put Bihar on international map of tourist destinations.
Regional Tourism/Cooperation with Neighbouring States:
- While developing tourism to attract foreign tourists the importance of domestic tourism has to be placed in the mind. Domestic tourists abound in the country moving tourism destinations and religious places in different states across the country. Efforts are to be made to attract the domestic tourists to Bihar in a big way and to facilitate their arrivals with accommodations and tour packages.
Development of Light and Sound System:
- Elaborate arrangements in coordination with tourism development corporations of the neighbouring states has to be done to tap the unlimited potential of tourism within the region. Effective coordination in utilizing the tourism inputs of the states within the region and elaborate arrangement for inter-state movement of tourists would be the hallmark in promoting regional tourism.
Development of Aqua Tourism:
- Effective light and sound system for entertaining tourists would be developed at the tourist sites including the historical sites.
20 years Master Plan:
- With a vast expanse of natural water originating in form of rivers coming down from Nepal and the sacred Ganga river and a wide Son river, Bihar has a wide scope for developing aqua tourism and river sports. Arrangements of floating restaurants and river cruises through motor launches and motor boats are the highlights of developing tourism in Bihar where in ancient times the "Viharas" played this crucial role of tourism. In the state capital, Patna, aqua tourism is on the anvil.
The state would entail construction of suitable accommodation for the pilgrims at the respective religious destinations.
Arrangements of safe journey and accommodation for the non-resident tourists.
- The department is formulating a 20 years Master Plan with a future projection for development of tourism in the state. The Master Plan is to envisage selection of tourist sites in all the districts of the state for their development.
Tourism Council would be constituted under the aegis of respective district administrations under the DMs.
Specialised education-cum-training for human resource development related to tourism would form an essential component of tourism development.
Acceptance of suggestions from different religious communities would be made for their inclusion in the plan for development of tourism.
The objectives are to construct multi cultural complexes, involvement of local population in tourism industry, exposition of folk art forms and culture to create awareness among people in order to develop tourism. People�s participation in tourism development using educative materials and other tools is to be encouraged.
Conservation of Historical and Cultural Heritages:
- The state will make elaborate arrangements to draw the attention of a large number of domestic and foreign tourists.
Awareness of Tourism:
- The government would ensure encouraging private sector participation in maintenance of historical and cultural heritages with an aim to promote tourism. For this cooperation of the central department of archaeology, religious trusts, municipalities, and municipal corporations would be sought. Besides, the voluntary rganizations and NGOs can also do this job on stipulated terms and conditions. For this the government will constitute a technical committee comprising renowned historians, archaeologists and engineers. The private sector or voluntary organsations would manage such heritages (sites) in order to ensure awareness of heritage tourism.
Development of Eatables:
- Tourism provide economic dimension to the development of the state. With this point of view seminars, quiz competitions, drawing competitions, exhibitions and display of films on tourism are to be rganized . Tourism literature would be provided to participating children to mark their awakening in this respect. Besides, inclusion of the contents of tourism literature in curricula of schools and colleges would be mooted to bring this in the education system. Educational tourism at school and college levels would be promoted for which tour programmes of the students would be packaged. Stress will be on opening tourism and hotel management institutes to involve youths in tourism and that way solving their unemployment problems.
- In pursuit of tourism development popular eatables of international and local levels have an important role to play. Bihar boasts of a variety of recipes and fruits that give a unique character to Bihar. Recipes such as Khaja, Lai, Belgrami, salted recipes such as litti-chokha, pickles, sauces, papad, sattu, and Makhana preparations give such uniqueness to the state. Fruits including mango, litchi, and banana are available in abudance with their known qualities and distinct varieties. The government would promote establishment of food chains to make available such recipes at tourist places to enable the domestic and foreign tourists relish such dishes.
Publicity and Extension:
- Personnel allied to tourism will be given suitable training to ensure care and comforts of the tourists.
- Publicity and extension has to play an important role to disseminate information about the tourist places across the world. For this tourism department participates in national and international exhibitions with expositions of its tourist sites. For the promotion and extension of Bihar tourism advertisements are published in newspapers and magazines. For important tourism features the help of electronic media will also be taken.
The people of Bihari origin from across the world and in other parts of the country would be extended the opportunity under a special scheme to contribute their mite in development of tourism in the state.
A standardised brand of Bihar tourism has to be popularized at national and international levels.
- In the coming years the rural tourism will take its shape playing an important role. As a majority of people live in villages in Bihar the linking of the villages to tourism development will encourage the tourists to enjoy the country life. A move in this direction would generate rural employment linked to tourism. The department will take all possible measures to promote rural tourism adding a new dimension in dotting the state with rural tourist spots.