Policy on the anvil to attract high-end domestic, foreign tourists
To ensure a “quantum jump” in the arrival of high-end tourists, the Uttarakhand government is formulating a comprehensive policy for strengthening infrastructure in the existing destinations and for developing newer destinations
To ensure a “quantum jump” in the arrival of high-end tourists, the Uttarakhand government is formulating a comprehensive policy for strengthening infrastructure in the existing destinations and for developing newer destinations.
“As part of the strategy, a vigorous campaign will soon be launched through electronic and print media to publicise the state as a destination like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala,” tourism secretary Meenakshi Sundram said. “The idea is to boost the state’s tourism-based economy by ensuring a quantum jump in the arrival of both domestic and foreign tourists.”
Sundaram said the state stood at 17th position in the country in terms of tourist arrivals. “The strategy being formulated aims to push the state at least to the 10th position in terms of high-end tourist arrivals both from within the country and abroad.”
Considering the size of the state, he said, the annual tourist arrival was in no way inadequate. “It is double (2.4 crore) the state’s population which stands at 1.2 crore,” he said, adding there was still the need to boost the inflow of high -end tourists so that the economy got a desired lift.
Sundaram attributed the problem to the composition of tourists, which comprised 80% pilgrims and the remaining interested in leisure tourism. “Among the latter category, the arrival of international tourists is very low,” he said, adding foreigners “mostly prefer visiting” Rishikesh and Haridwar due to their keen interest in adventure, yoga and wellness tourism.
Plans were also afoot to promote winter tourism by developing a number of skiing destinations in the high altitude areas to attract international tourists, he said. “We will soon be inking an agreement with the French government, under which Auli and its nearby area, Gorson, will be developed as the international level skiing destinations.”
Like this, the government had also planned to develop other high altitude areas such as Dayara Bugyal, Gidara Bugyal, Vedini Bugyal, Chopta, Chakrata and Betulidhar as the international level skiing destinations.
Uttarakhand will host the Federation of International Skiing (FIS) tournament in January. “It will be the first-of-its-kind FIS tournament to be held in the state.” Similarly, as part of popularising winter tourism, plans were afoot to develop the lesser-known religious destinations dotting the lower altitude areas of the fabled Chardham namely Pancha Kedar, Pancha Badri, Aadi Badri, Jageshwar and Tungnath.
Besides, plans were underway to boost infrastructure in 20 different destinations. “They are either final destinations or are on way to the final destinations where the annual arrival of one lakh tourists is recorded,” Sundaram said adding, the IIM-Kashipur would conduct the infrastructure gap study in all the 20 urban conglomerations. “The study is being conducted so that we have a clear idea about the kind of infrastructure we need to develop in those destinations to ensure a hassle-free stay for tourists.”
Besides, the government plans to develop 13 newer destinations. “It will help divert tourist pressure from the popular destinations to the lesser-known destinations, which will help generate economic opportunities for the locals,” he said, adding a company had also been hired to promote Uttarakhand as a high-end destination from October.
“A lot of investments will start flowing in once the tourism infrastructure is strengthened, newer tourist spots are developed and the state is projected as a high-end destination.”