A comprehensive plan is being chalked out to make Punjab a tourism hub, state tourism and cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said in Chandigarh on Friday.
Chairing a meeting here, the minister said there are ample places of cultural importance which deserve to be included among the ‘World Heritage Sites’, besides some other landmarks which fall under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
He said that UNESCO would be approached after co-ordinating with ASI to get such places included among World Heritage Sites.
The minister also said Punjab has glorious cultural heritage and scores of devotees from all parts of the globe come to have a glimpse of religious and spiritual places.
He said Punjab has the potential to emerge as the front line destination on world tourism map and based on this, the state will be developed to realise its tremendous potential which will ultimately lead to the boosting of its economy.
Sidhu, who is MLA from Amritsar East, also directed the officials of the department to maintain the original look of the cultural landmarks and warned that anybody tampering with these places would not be spared.
The minister also batted for connecting the youth with rich cultural heritage of Punjab through digital TV “as this is the internet age and present day youth is hooked to it”.
Sidhu said every day 1,25,000 tourists visit Amritsar who return the same day after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple.
He said Amritsar alone has marvelous places like- Durgiana Mandir, Jallianwala Bagh, War Memorial, Wagah-Attari Border, Gobindgarh Fort and Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal,all having great tourism potential.
Sidhu expressed confidence that Amritsar can emerge as the leading player in the tourism sector and the number of people visiting the ‘Holy City’ could increase manifold if proper facilities are provided to them.
Expressing enthusiasm over encouraging tourism through domestic airports, Sidhu said if Pathankot airport is operationalised, then the area around Ranjit Sagar dam could be developed on the pattern of Goa as prime centre of ‘adventure sports’ where tourists would make a beeline.
The minister also floated the idea of connecting ‘Takhts’ and other religious places in Punjab through a circuit which would lead to rapid increase in the number of devotees.
Similarly, he also rooted for linking historical forts, ‘sarais’, memorials and other spots through a circuit, besides a film city which would give fillip to film tourism in the state.
Instructing departmental officials to work in this direction, he was all up for raising independent sources of income for the memorials constructed in the state so as to make them financially self-sufficient.
The minister also laid emphasis on bolstering tourism through folk music, instruments, traditional festivals and craft items.
He also disclosed that the Punjab government is soon bringing out a cultural policy which would give a huge boost to the tourism sector.