‘Not just England, Punjabi tourists must explore northern Ireland’ | punjab | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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‘Not just England, Punjabi tourists must explore northern Ireland’

The number of students applying for higher education to Britain from the region rose by 27% in 2017-2018.

punjab Updated: Dec 15, 2017 14:00 IST
Manraj Grewal Sharma
British deputy high commissioner Andrew Ayre, restaurateur Harjinder Kukreja and his wife Harkirat and son Aad Sach in Chandigarh on Thursday.
British deputy high commissioner Andrew Ayre, restaurateur Harjinder Kukreja and his wife Harkirat and son Aad Sach in Chandigarh on Thursday.(HT Photo)

If you see someone biking on the Morni Hills, taking a break only to shoot some pictures, chances are it’s your British deputy high commissioner, Andrew Ayre. If there is one thing that this affable diplomat shares with young Punjabis, it’s his passion for biking, with Royal Enfield Bullet being his machine of choice.

A career diplomat with 30 years of experience, who took over the Chandigarh consulate in March, says the upsides of being here are far more than those in Guyana, where he was based from 2011 to 2015.

He has every reason to be pleased — the number of tourists from India, especially Punjab, to Britain, shot up by an impressive 45% this year with a total of 2,27,000 Indians vacationing there. This is a big boost for the British tourism industry, which contributes 9% to the country’s GDP.

The number of students applying for higher education to Britain from the region also rose by 27% in 2017-2018.

BIRMINGHAM SOLUTION TO STUBBLE

“My job is to make our relationship more mutually beneficial,” says Ayre, who is looking forward to the inauguration of a plant, which will generate fuel out of rice stubble, at Rajpura today.

“This technology was patented by a Birmingham professor specialising in non-conventional energy. It will not only be an antidote to stubble burning, but will also help farmers make some money,” says Ayre, who calls it the first of many British initiatives to promote renewable energy and boost farm income.

However, skill development tops Ayre’s agenda. “We are working with the Punjab government on various skilling programmes to make educated youngsters more employable.” The high commission is also promoting cold chains to help farmers get their produce to marketplace.

The consulate is embracing the make-in-India movement as well. “JCB and Triumph motorcycles in Haryana, Damco, an IT company in Chandigarh that employs 2,000 people here and 150 in the UK; and Hero Cycles in Ludhiana are a few examples,” Ayre says.

WINTER BREAK IN BRITAIN

Nowadays, he is busy promoting winter tourism in Britain with VisitBritain, which is sponsoring Harjinder Kukreja, a Ludhiana-based restaurateur who has one million followers on Twitter, and his family for a week-long vacation in London and Birmingham.

“One thing missing in Punjab is Christmas. There is nothing like attending the mass at St Paul’s cathedral, and seeing the lights at Regent Street,” says Ayre, who urged the tourists to explore northern Ireland and other lesser-known destinations.