Maharashtra Tourism has made key changes to the state’s agro-tourism policy to make it more investor-friendly. A meeting chaired by Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary – Tourism, Maharashtra earlier this week decided to incorporate key changes in the agri-tourism policy based on consultations with the Maharashtra Agri Tourism Development Committee.
With these modifications, if an agricultural land is leased for a period of 10 years, the lessee can apply to operate an agrotourism center on this land with the NOC of the lessor. Previously, registration of an agrotourism center was only allowed in the name of the owner of the land. According to agritourism promoters, this will enable small and medium-sized farmers who lack funds to develop the required agritourism infrastructure on their farms to enter into a rental partnership with a private investor to develop the required infrastructure.
Equally important, according to the new amendment, agritourism projects in the state would not require any permission from the planning authority to build up to 8 accommodation units in their agritourism centers. Built-up area restrictions and planning authority permissions would be required for commercial projects beyond eight rooms.
Agritourism centers can sell locally produced goods like food, handicrafts, etc. in the center according to the new amendment. Each registered entity must install DoT authorized center signs with the Maharashtra Tourism logo in the agrotourism center.
The meeting decided to develop a model agrotourism training program. A committee composed of agricultural university professors, district agricultural officers, members of the Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), expert owners of agrotourism centers and officials of the tourism department, will design the module of training.
Dhananjay Sawalkar, Co-Director, DoT, informed the meeting that about 500 applications have been received from six regions of the state for agrotourism centers. The top three regions in terms of applications received are Pune, Konkan and Nagpur. Pune received the highest number of applications with 215, of which 125 centers are registered. Konkan and Nagpur received 114 and 66 applications of which 65 and 35 centers are registered respectively.
“The department is currently focusing on the other three regions, viz. Nashik, Amravati and Aurangabad so that more farmers apply for agrotourism centers and register with us,” he added.
“It’s a win-win situation for small and medium-sized farm owners and investors. The new arrangements will open doors for many agritourism centers in the state and help sustainable agriculture,” said Pandurang Taware, a member of the Maharashtra Agri Tourism Development Committee.