Caravans for Maha holidays; state seeks public opinion on new proposal

How about rolling in a caravan and heading to picturesque corners of Maharashtra? The state government wants to know your say on the concept of tourism with a ‘house’ on the move. The government has released a draft Caravan Tourism Policy seeking suggestions and objections from citizens. This dimension to tourism—adding a caravan to the back of a vehicle—is quite popular abroad. Officials said the government hopes to promote caravan tourism considering that Maharashtra is known for scenic beaches, forts, mountain ranges, hill stations, forests, heritage sites, caves and dams. While these attractions have immense potential for caravan tourism, they said, the moving ‘houses’ will have great demand in remote areas where hotels are scarce. The draft policy says that caravans and camper vans will be able to provide all the facilities to tourists in areas where permanent construction is prohibited.

If implemented, Maharashtra will be the third state after Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to have such a policy in place. The draft policy comes days after Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray launched a caravan bus (in pic). The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation plans to promote caravan parks and caravans through public and private sectors and PPP mode. While MTDC will provide land, others will require to develop various amenities and facilities at the parks.

It will be promoted and marketed under MTDC’s Mahabhraman scheme. The caravan parks will remain operational 24X7 during tourist seasons and will be connected by fair-weather roads from main carriageways. Each park will come upon a minimum 2.5-acre space and will have a maximum of 20 parking bays. Further, such centres will have to adopt a tourism-friendly policy which also benefits the local community and is eco-friendly. The state has proposed to develop caravan parks in buffer zones, adjoining areas of forests, at the base of forts, near beaches and lakes, at the base of trekking sites and in hill stations. Potential investors may lease out the land from the government departments concerned. To attract more players, the government plans to provide concessions and subsidies. Investors will be entitled to exemptions of GST, stamp duty and registration charges, caravan permit charges and RTO tax.

Further, the caravan park and caravan operators will be reimbursed the land conversion fee. Moreover, the government will also provide investment subsidy for land or area in effective possession with legitimate legal rights as per the requirement of the project, any built-up area used for the construction of accommodation for all facilities as required for the running of the caravan park. The government will provide these incentives for eligible units during the operative period of the scheme.

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