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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Himachal govt asks tourism service providers to improve quality

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, November 29, 2012
First Published: 19:11 IST(29/11/2012) | Last Updated: 00:21 IST(30/11/2012)

Himachal Pradesh has become one of the popular destinations for both the domestic and foreign tourists. But 20% drop in the sector in the past few months has compelled the state tourism department to do some serious rethinking. The state tourist department has now asked the stakeholders to improve their services to tourists visiting the hill state.

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"For ensuring growth, we must stress on bettering the services being provided to tourists," Dr Arun Sharma, director tourism and civil aviation, told Hindustan Times.

The tourism sector in Himachal Pradesh contributes around 10% to its gross domestic product. It witnessed growth even during the time of global economic slowdown. Tourism in Himachal had benefitted during the time of militancy in Kashmir. The studies conducted by the tourism department reveal that lack of quality services up to a large extent was responsible for the declining of tourism activities in the state. Fleecing by contractors of parking lots is another reason bring ascribed for the drop in the number of visitors.

Suspension of flights to Himachal has impacted the tourism sector in the state. Kingfisher, which was the sole service provider in the state, had suspended its flights to Kullu and Shimla in the first week of July, while the flights operating to Kangra was stopped in October.

The state government has repeatedly written to the civil aviation ministry for making alternate arrangements. Hoteliers in the state have now decided to meet the officials at the civil aviation ministry to urge them for restoring the air connectivity in Himachal. Cancellation of flights has adversely impacted the inflow of high-end tourists in the state.

Majority of tourists do not return to the state owing to their bitter experiences during holidaying in Himachal Pradesh. Tourists largely complain about the erratic behaviour of the taxi drivers. Also improper public convenience is the main complaint, the tourists visiting Himachal Pradesh make.

The state tourist department has now asked all its district tourism officers to hold parlays with the stakeholders. "I had demi-officially requested for holding parleys with stakeholders like diversification of tourism product. Updating quality is one step which must be ensured to achieve the benchmarks," says Dr Arun Sharma, adding that the tourism department will provide quality certificates to the service providers offering the quality services to tourists.

"We have planned to issue quality certificates to services providers offering better services, so that tourists do not face inconvenience while holidaying in the state," he said.

The tourism department has introduced "Har Gaon Key Kahani", a concept to diversify the tourism services. The state tourism department has now laid emphasis on more interaction and travel and trade people to enhance tourism. The tourism department has asked the local administration to identify more destinations of rural tourism. But much to the chagrin of the authorities, there been no response from the district administration in spite of repeated reminders.

To facilitate the visitors, the department has prepared an inventory of facilities and the district administration has been asked to update the same before December 5.

The state tourism department is keen to tap tourists visiting the universities, stadiums and other places of interest. It has now instructed its district officers and recently developed new places of interest which need to be publicised in proper manner.

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