The global financial crisis adversely affected the growth in tourism in 2008-09. However, a series of promotional measures to counter the slow down were taken. Initiatives were taken to develop world class tourism infrastructure through central financial assistance for identified circuits and destinations. The state has immense potential of tourism, and the state govt is now determined to utilize it to the maximum. Keeping in view the importance of tourism for Bihar economy, the state government has accorded the status of industry to this sector. In the Department of Tourism, there are two types of activities going on, viz., developmental and commercial. While commercial activities are being undertaken by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, the developmental activities are executed by different agencies like Central Public Works Department, Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, Building Construction Department, Water Resources Department and the concerned District Magistrates.
The Department of Tourism has undertaken various schemes to develop tourism in the state and the approved plan budget of the Department has increased from Rs. 7.43 crore in 2005-06 to Rs. 18.30 crore in 2006-07 and Rs. 30.44 crore in 2010-11. The quantum jump in the plan outlay over the years is indicative of the state government’s concern for improving the tourism in the state. It may also be seen from Table 3.31 that while only around 34 percent of the approved budget could be spent in 2000-01, almost the entire budgeted amount was utilised in the years 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10
Various schemes relating to tourism development have been executed in the state, funded by the state as well as central government. The important works taken up with state govt funds include acquisition of land measuring 11.94 acres for construction of Nav Nalanda Mahavihar cultural village and 10.50 acres of land in Vaishali for facilitating tourism. A 48 seater Floating Restaurant in the river Ganga has been completed and, for this, a cafeteria at Gandhi Ghat is ready.
In the premises of Mangal Talaab in Patna City, one stadium, open air theatre, café plaza, parking space, etc. have been completed. Besides, various other works including renovation of places like Chamundeshwari Temple (Kaimur), Janaki Sthan, Punaura, and beautification of Ganga Ghats in Patna, etc. have also been taken up. Similarly, from the central fund, tourism complex at Deo in Aurangabad, Bodh Gaya Traffic Interchange Node- l and 2, Yatri Niwas for Kanwariya tourists, renovation of roads in Bodh Gaya, installation of CCTV, etc. have been completed. For development of rural tourism, two small
schemes of software and hardware are being executed in Nepura village of Nalanda district. Likewise, Tehta village of Jehanabad, Obra of Aurangabad and Puraini and Nathnagar of Bhagalpur have been selected under rural tourism and the project proposals are being prepared
As a result of various endeavors made to develop tourism in Bihar, the state is becoming a favourable destination for tourists. Their number, both domestic and foreign, has been increasing
steadily after 2005. In 2006, the number of domestic and foreign tourists was 10,670 thousand and 94 thousand respectively; in 2009, it increased to 15,518 thousand and 423 thousand respectively, showing an increase of 30 percent in the total flow of domestic and foreign tourists
Among the districts, the highest inflow of domestic as well as foreign tourists was reported from Gaya, followed by Patna. Other attractions for domestic tourists were Sonepur fair and Shrawan Mela at Sultanpur in Bhagalpur district (Appendix VIII). The state government is very keen to develop tourism and take it to the new heights. In view of this, it has taken the following measures.
(a) Formulation of Tourism Policy : The state government, for the first time, has formulated a Bihar Paryatan Neeti.
(b) Human Resource Development : The state government has introduced schemes for imparting short term training in different vocations relating to tourism like guide, tour and travel operators, hospitality services, hotel management and catering. The Hotel Management Institute at Hazipur has already been started and the Hotel Management Institute at Bodh
Gaya is likely to start this year. The Food Craft Institute at Muzaffarpur is likely to be started this year.
(c) Paryatan Suraksha Bal : To ensure security and friendly services, the appointment of tourism security forces has been sanctioned. In the first phase, the security forces will be deputed at important tourist places like Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda and Vaishali. Till such time the regular forces are formed, the presently available police force will be identified and trained before being posted.
(d) Logo and tagline for Bihar Tourism : To enforce its brand through campaigns, the new logo of Bihar tourism has been designed by the National Design Institute, Ahmedabad and
adopted by the state government. A new tagline ‘Blissful Bihar’ has also been introduced.
(e) MOU with ASI : The government has signed an MOU with Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for development of Kesariya, Manersharif and Shershah’s Mausoleum.
(f) Introduction of Volvo Buses : For providing better services to tourists, Volvo buses have been introduced for the places like Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, etc.
(g) Tour Packages : In order to attract the tourists for different destinations, tour packages are going to the introduced. The finalised tour packages will have wide publicity.
(h) Media and Marketing : A media and marketing plan has been prepared by the Tourism Department in 2008. The marketing for Bihar tourism will also be done through the internet.
Its advertisements will also be introduced at the sites of all the airlines. Through social awareness campaigns, attempts are made to sensitise the stakeholders about the importance
of tourism and create awareness about various destinations/ tourism products, etc.
(i) Tourist Map : A tourist map of Bihar has for the first time been prepared. A Bihar Tourist Guide Book named ‘A Journey Through Bihar’ has been published. Calendars for the
festivals like Rajgir, Buddhist, Vaishali, Deo etc. have also been prepared.
(j) River Cruise on Ganga: A river cruise on Ganga for 15 days, under Public Private Partnership mode with Pandav Cruise Company, has been introduced.
(k) Buddhist Conclave: A Buddhist Conclave has been organized at Nalanda in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.