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Sidhu unveils plans to develop Punjab as heritage tourism destination

"One lakh tourists visit Golden Temple daily, Amritsar, but we are not able to attract them to other destinations. We have failed to preserve our rich heritage and tap its tourism potential," said Sidhu.

punjab Updated: Jul 19, 2017 10:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mohali
Navjot Singh Sidhu,heritage tourism,Punjab
Four circuits — Maharaja, Mughal, Sufi and Spiritual would be developed in Punjab, Sidhu said, adding that the idea was to go beyond religious tourism. (Anil Dayal/HT)

The doyens of India's heritage industry on Tuesday sought a clear road-map from the Punjab government to unlock the state's tourism potential.

This was after Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu shared the government's plans to restore the state’s royal and Mughal era assets and develop these as tourist destinations. Four circuits — Maharaja, Mughal, Sufi and Spiritual would be developed in Punjab, Sidhu said, adding that the idea was to go beyond religious tourism. All this was discussed during an interactive session at the Indian School of Business, Mohali, where delegates from the Indian Heritage Hotel Association and Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore were present.

"One lakh tourists visit Golden Temple daily, Amritsar, but we are not able to attract them to other destinations. We have failed to preserve our rich heritage and tap its tourism potential," said Sidhu.

Seeking IHHA's help in restoring these properties, he disclosed that the religious circuit would connect the three Takht Sahibans in the state (Sri Akal Takht Sahib Amritsar, Sri Kesgarh Sahib Sri Anandpur Sahib, and Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo).

The Maharaja Circuit will connect Quila Mubarak, Patiala; Sheesh Mahal, Bathinda Fort; Darbar Hall Sangrur; Maharaja Jagatjit Palace and Bagghikhana in Kapurthala.

"I don't see any reason why tourism can't play a major role in reviving its economy and generate employment especially in rural areas. Most heritage properties are in villages," he said.

The Congress government will first bring the required infrastructure on ground to facilitate the tourists before branding these properties, he claimed.

‘Clarity needed on role of private sector’

IHHI president Gaj Singh, also a royal scion of Jodhpur, said Punjab had great potential as a heritage destination, but things needed to be organised better.

“We could develop Rajasthan because most of the heritage properties were in private hands. In Punjab, assets are under the custody of state government. We need clarity on how the state plans to rope in private industry to develop these properties,” he added.

In place with a clear policy, it was imperative that the state develops better civic facilities and roads around its heritage structures, it added.

“The state government is planning an ambitious move, but it will definitely transform tourism in the state,” said Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore.

Industry’s wishlist
  • Proper documentation of all heritage properties in the state with clear title
  • Capital investment subsidy of 20% of project cost
  • Concession on stamp duty for purchase of heritage hotels
  • Excise fee licence for properties in rural areas
  • Industry status for heritage tourism
  • Perfect drainage system, water and electricity supply around heritage buildings

First Published: Jul 19, 2017 10:23 IST