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Gujarat declares its first Heritage Tourism Policy

Rani ki Vav, Gujarat

Opening up ancient palaces, forts and other heritage monuments for international and national visitors to boost the tourism sector, the Gujarat government on Friday announced the state’s first heritage tourism policy. The new policy, which will provide an opportunity for the tourists to enjoy and experience a stay in the historical monuments of the state, is also expected to boost the local employment and the state tourism industry.

Under the Heritage Tourism Policy, the Gujarat government has allowed the opening up of heritage hotels, museums, banquet halls and restaurants inside historic palaces, forts and buildings.

“This policy has been declared after many rounds of discussions with the stakeholders,” said Mamta Varma, Secretary, Tourism Department. “We have a lot of heritage properties in Saurashtra and South Gujarat. This can be very attractive for tourists,” she added.

The move comes at a time when the entire tourism industry is passing through a difficult phase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This policy is applicable to historic structures that existed before January 1, 1950, and will allow international and domestic tourists to see and experience historic structures from close quarters.

Under this policy, a new heritage hotel or an existing one will get financial assistance of Rs 5-10 crore for renovation or expansion. The basic heritage structure should not be altered during this process. The government will give a 20 per cent subsidy (maximum of Rs 5 crore) if the investment is up to Rs 25 crore. If the investments are over Rs 25 crore, then the maximum subsidy would be Rs 10 crore.

Similarly, to begin a new heritage museum, banquet hall or restaurant or to renovate or restore an existing one, financial assistance of Rs 45 lakh to Rs 1 crore will be provided.

This financial aid will be given at 7 percent interest for five years and will not exceed Rs 30 lakh in a year. In these five years, the government will give 100 per cent relief in electricity duty, marketing support and rent assistance in national and international events. The state government in a statement claimed that the move will boost tourism and create jobs.

According to officials, a separate policy governing heritage structures in Gujarat was a long pending demand from the owners. The government also stated that the present guidelines for home-stays have been relaxed and homeowners having 1-6 rooms can apply for homestays after registering with the tourism department.