Uttarakhand has lagged in attracting foreign tourists, suggests data from the Union tourism ministry.
The report, which detailed the number of foreigners arriving in India, said while neighbouring Himachal Pradesh (HP) shares similar geographical and natural treasures as Uttarakhand, it is way ahead in terms of pulling foreign tourists. Experts say Uttarakhand is falling behind Himachal due to several reasons, with policy paralysis just one of them.
“Uttarakhand is a 15-year-old state while HP is a 35-year-old state. Obviously it is much streamlined. I will also blame laid-back attitude of Uttarakhand officials” SS Pangti, former Director General of tourism department said. Pangti was DG (tourism) in undivided Uttar Pradesh. According to him, Uttarakhand has one of the best ski-resorts in the country — Auli — but it is not popularised and a large number of foreigners head towards HP.
Ratan Aswal, a Rishikesh-based rafting and camping organiser said the ban on rafting camps in Rishikesh has also affected the tourism industry. “The impact is on both domestic and foreign tourists. But yes, foreign guests are assets and losing them is a big loss,” he said.
Minister of state for tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma, while replying to a query in the Lok Sabha, tabled data for three years — 2012, 2013 and 2014. The date for 2015, the minister’s reply said, was not readily available.
According to the data, Tamil Nadu received the highest number of foreign tourists in 2014 at 46.57 lakh, followed by Maharastra (43.89 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (29 lakh) and Delhi (23.19 lakh).