Strange though it may sound, statistics reveal that annual tourist inflow to Himachal Pradesh, which earned a revenue of around Rs 1,000 crore from the tourism industry last year, outnumbered the local population.
"As per the last census figure, Himachal's population stands at nearly 61 lakh, whereas the tourist inflow to the state last year was 75.72 lakh which included two lakh foreign tourists," an official of the Himachal Pradesh government told PTI in Kolkata.
Stating that Himachal earned Rs 1,000 crore from the industry in the last fiscal, he said to tap the full potential of tourism in the state known for the pristine beauty of the Himalayas, the government was encouraging the private sector to develop tourism-related infrastructure without disturbing the ecology.
The main thrust was employment generation and promoting tourism in the countryside and lesser-known areas.
Himachal's rural landscape offers varied and rich attractions to the tourists.
The Centre recently sanctioned Rs 21 crore for the development of three tourist circuits which included Shimla, Kangra and Sirmour.
Another proposal worth Rs 97 crore was sent to the Centre for development of areas including Chamba, Mandi-Bilaspur, Rohru-Chansal, he said. The official said the government wants to develop temple tourism and helicopter services in the areas under the project.
The Railway ministry, he said, has applied to UNESCO seeking world heritage status for the century-old Kalka-Shimla railway, one of the attractions for tourists visiting the state.