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In the offing, policy to attract high spending foreign tourists

Aiming to boost rural economy and check forced migration from the hills, the Uttarakhand government will soon introduce a policy to attract high spending foreign tourists to the scenic central Himalayan region

dehradun Updated: Apr 27, 2018 21:26 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Homestay policy introduced by the government would help facilitate the arrival of a large number of foreign tourists, says tourism minister Satpal Maharaj.
Homestay policy introduced by the government would help facilitate the arrival of a large number of foreign tourists, says tourism minister Satpal Maharaj.(HT File)

Aiming to boost rural economy and check forced migration from the hills, the Uttarakhand government will soon introduce a policy to attract high spending foreign tourists to the scenic central Himalayan region.

“The tourism policy that will be unveiled soon aims to set up all necessary infrastructure so that the region is easily accessible to high spending foreign tourists,” tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said. “The strategy aims to check forced migration from the hills by giving a boost to the state’s tourism based economy.”

Maharaj said the central Himalayan region was endowed with not just the unparalleled scenic beauty. “It also has the potential for all aspects of tourism -- from adventure to wellness and wildlife, foreign tourists are attracted to,” he said, adding the state, however, had one “major weak point that keeps” foreign tourists away.

“We are sorely lacking in infrastructure. The proposed tourism policy seeks to address that aspect, so this state that has so much to offer to foreign tourists is easily accessible to them,” Maharaj said.

“As part of this move, we are planning to have international air connectivity so that this region is directly accessible to high spending foreign tourists.”

Maharaj said he was in touch with the Centre to ensure that Uttarakhand has an international airport.

“Once we have that facility, foreign tourists will be able to directly fly into the mountain state instead of reaching here via Delhi or Mumbai,” he said while ruling out the possibility of upgrading the Jolly Grant airport on the city outskirts.

“It (Jolly Grant) cannot be upgraded to the level of an international airport as the small area in which it is located leaves hardly any scope for expansion,” the minister said.

“The (international airport) project, we are planning, will be setup separately at a spacious place,” he said without disclosing areas being considered for the airport.

Once the state would be equipped with an international airport high spending foreign tourists would start visiting here from the US and the European countries like France and Great Britain.

“If that facility (international airport) would be available, at a time some 400 to 600 foreign tourists would be able to fly into the state in the spacious aeroplanes like the airbus 380 and Boeing 377,” Maharaj said.

“All such tourists interested in yoga, wellness and adventure tourism can then be ferried straightaway to this state in groups in separate chartered flights,” he said.

Marahaj said foreign tourists, who would reach Uttarakhand by international flights, could then straightaway air dash to different areas of the Himalayan state by soon-to-be introduced helicopter services.

“Our Unique Selling Proposition is the Himalayas… Foreign tourists visit this state to have a view of the enchanting snow covered Himalayas,” he said.

The minister said in that sense, a tourist state like Uttarakhand had the biggest market in the Middle Eastern countries.

“Tourists in that part of the globe could be our main clients as they would like to visit this state to watch the snow capped Himalayan peaks -- a unique feature those countries are sorely lacking in,” he said.

“People in that country are flush with funds which they can spend in this state enriching its tourism based economy.”

Besides, the homestay policy introduced by the state government recently would also help facilitate the arrival of a large number of foreign tourists.

“Under that policy, the people in rural areas would be provided subsidies, so they could equip their homes with facilities,” Maharaj said.

“Army chief General Bipin Rawat has also agreed to my request that ex-servicemen from the region should also develop homestays as they are disciplined and, are, therefore, better equipped to provide foreign tourists efficient services.”

Under the proposed policy, the infrastructure would also be put in place for high spending foreign tourists to enjoy activities like star gazing, angling, trekking, white water rafting and eco tourism etc, the minister said.

Tour and travel agencies in Dehradun welcomed the move to set up infrastructure to augment the influx of high spending foreign tourists.

“The plans like setting up an international airport will make this state easily accessible to high spending foreign tourists, which would help improve its tourism based economy,” said Jayant Sehgal of DB Tour Travels.

Nisha Tyagi of Krishna Holidays agreed. “If there is a rise in the influx of the high end foreign tourists, the rural economy would get a boost, which would help check the forced migration from the hills,” she said.