Maharashtra Cabinet approves 'caravan tourism' policy

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Mumbai, Feb 17 (PTI) Against the backdrop of COVID-19 and need for safe travel, the Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new 'caravan tourism' policy that seeks to provide incentives to tour operators and at the same time boost employment opportunities in the pandemic-battered sector.

The policy, aimed at addressing safety concerns of travel enthusiasts, was cleared at the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The policy has two parts - caravan and caravan parks - allowing tourists to enjoy the state's natural beauty and a range of other attractions, a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.

It will also boost employment opportunities in the tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the pandemic, it said.

A caravan is a specially-built vehicle used for the purpose of travel, leisure and accommodation. A caravan park is a place where such vehicles can stay overnight and provide amenities and facilities for tourists.

Benefits like waiver of stamp and electricity duties, and GST refund will be provided to tour operators under the policy, the statement said.

Caravans and caravan parks will have to be registered with the tourism directorate, which will train their promoters in marketing, management and hygiene aspects, it said.

The CMO statement said accommodation facilities for tourists and private investment will get a boost under the policy.

Family picnics can be arranged in places other than hotels and resorts and no development zones can be utilised better, it said, adding that remote areas with tourist attractions will become easily accessible.

Caravan parks can be set up in places which are well equipped with basic amenities like water, road and electricity, the statement said.

Caravans can be parked in these places, which can come up on private or government land.

Owners of caravan parks will have to ensure safety and security of travellers and provide them necessary facilities, including for the differently-abled, the statement said.

Caravan parks can also come up on the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) guest house areas and open land belonging to the state-run body.

The statement said caravans will have beds, kitchens, toilets, sofas and tables and these vehicles in different sizes will be registered with the transport commissioner apart from the tourism directorate.

Registration fee will be Rs 5,000 and licence of operators will be renewed on a payment of Rs 2,000, it said.

In another decision, the cabinet gave a go-ahead for setting up a skilled university while centres of excellence in all the six revenue divisions of the state. These will function as divisional centres of the university, the statement said.

The cabinet also approved the Pimpri-Chinchwad-Nigdi elevated line of the Pune metro project.

The existing Pimpri-Chinchwad-Swargate route has been amended for the purpose and the extended line will cost Rs 946.73 crore and have three stations, the statement said. PTI MR RSY KJ