City tourism a story of neglect

  • Rameshinder Singh Sandhu, Hindustan Times, ludhiana
  • Updated: Dec 30, 2014 20:46 IST

Although this year the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB) has been conferred with top awards, including Most Progressive State Tourism Award, Most Innovative Marketing Approach and Best Rural Tourism Initiative, but it has only been able to paint a lackadaisical picture when it comes to the tourism office in Ludhiana. This picture existed not just this year, but ever since the office opened its doors in December 2011 at the clock tower.

While the tourism office here has maps of other cities and towns of the state, it had nothing on Ludhiana ever since the opening of the office till August this year. All this time, the officials, including the chief executive officer (CEO), announced that the maps would be released within a few weeks. Finally when the office got the maps in August this year, several questions were raised by hoteliers and tourists on various shortcomings in the maps just after a day or two of its arrival.

It was found that there was no mention of emergency numbers, information on recommendable foreign exchange points, opening and closing timings of major attractions in the district and hotel listings on the map. The matter was also reported in the Hindustan Times on August 9 and an email was also sent to deputy CEO Navjotpal Singh on August 10, to which he never replied. When this correspondent had telephonically contacted Singh in August, he confirmed that fresh printing of maps would be done within a few months and the new maps would be free of flaws and these would be sent instantly to Ludhiana.
However, the year has come to end, but maps never reached the tourism office, which continues to run with the same old maps. Singh, while commenting on this issue, recently said, "There are no plans to print new maps as of now, but we are aware of the shortcomings. We may print fresh maps in early 2015 and they will be free of any flaws."

Meanwhile, with lack of hygiene and hotel or train booking service tourists face a lot of problems. Moreover, the officials in the tourism office hardly have any knowledge about the city and the feedback register is not updated regularly. Entrance to the office is always blocked by pushcarts of fruit and vegetable sellers. There are no directions to reach the tourism office, especially from the train station.

Several citizens and students of the city, especially those studying tourism, have also shared this scenario with Hindustan Times.

Residents plant over 1 lakh saplings

While PHTPB plays a sluggish role in boosting tourism in the city, a large number of Ludhiana residents with support of many city-based NGOs planted over 1 lakh plant saplings in various areas of the city. All this was done within an hour from 8 am to 9 am on July 20 with an aim to change reputation of the city from 'polluted' to 'green city'. Many regional celebrities also participated.

Awards won by Punjab Tourism in 2014

Best Spiritual Tourism Destination: By Travel and Leisure Magazine

Most Progressive State for Tourism: By Today's Traveler Annual Awards

Best Rural Tourism Initiative for Farm Tourism: International Tourism Conclave and Travel Award

Most innovative Marketing Award: 10th Hospitality India award

Most Progressive Trade Marketing Award: India Travel Awards, North

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