Tourists flow to Ajanta-Ellora to go up next year

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New Delhi, Aug 1 (UNI) The airport at Aurangabad will be upgraded before the end of this year to receive wide-bodied aircraft, a measure which will give a further fillip to tourism in the region which has the world heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora.

The airport upgradation was taken up as part of the Phase II Ajanta-Ellora conservation and tourism development project, being implemented by the Union Tourism Ministry with loan assistance from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

The new the integrated terminal building at the airport will have new state-of-art facilities for the convenience of the travellers and to handle increasing passenger traffic.

"This will significantly boost international tourist traffic to the region which has several Buddhist monuments," a top tourism official said.

Union Tourism Secretary S Banerjee, Joint Secretaries E K Bharat Bhushan and Leena Nadan made a site visit last week and reviewed the progress of Phase II Ajanta Ellora Conservation and Tourism Development Project.

The Phase II Project is in continuation of the Phase I which was successfully implemented with ODA assistance to enhance the tourism potential of Ajanta Ellora.

The second phase of the project covers restoration of Ajanta Ellora Caves and other monuments in Aurangabad city which include Bibi Ka Maqbara, Pitalkhora Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Daulatabad Fort, Patnadevi Temple and others.

The works to be carried out at these places include structural reinforcement, chemical conservation of the paintings, upgrading the environment and improvement of visitor management systems, an official release said here today.

As part of the project, construction of Visitor Management Centres at Ajanta and Ellora are also being undertaken.

Apart from the construction of buildings, the Visitor Centres would include multi-media exhibition works and facilities for the tourists visiting Ajanta Ellora Caves. These visitor Centres have been designed to give the tourists a unique experience and information about historical, cultural importance of the Ajanta Ellora Cave Complexes which have been accorded 'World Heritage Site' status by UNESCO.

Afforestation of land in Ajanta Ellora region is also being undertaken as part of this project. This would help in improving vegetation cover and prevent soil erosion as well as reduce pollution in the vicinity of the caves to give an enhanced tourism experience to the travellers.

Human Resource Development, Improvement of Roads, Water Supply at Tourists Attractions, Computerization of Tourist Information, Public Awareness Activities are some of the other works being undertaken as part of the Ajanta Ellora Conservation and Tourism Development Project, Phase II.

Apart from the ongoing project, development of infrastructural facilities at Aurangabad and other surrounding sites would be further augmented as it has also been identified as 'Mega Tourism Destination' to be developed in the near future with Central financial assistance.

Taking into account the importance of Aurangabad as a hub for cultural and spiritual tourism, the Ministry of Tourism would be organising a 'Shopping Festival' in Aurangabad to showcase the handicrafts from this region, the release said.

The completion of Ajanta Ellora Project and other initiatives would enhance the experience of tourists and would facilitate growth of tourism in the region.

UNI SH RL AS1432

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