The New Tourism Policy of the State aims at attracting foreign investment, development of eco-tourism besides attracting film units to the State to promote tourism activities at a larger scale. This was revealed by Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, in his inaugural address on the occasion of two-days long International Conference on â€˜Cutting Edge Research in Tourism â€“ New Directions and Challengesâ€™ jointly organized by the Department of Tourism Administration of the Himachal Pradesh University in collaboration with the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Himachal Pradesh, co-hosted by the Himalayan Ski Village, Kullu Valley here today.
Chief Minister said that tourism growth graph in Himachal Pradesh was increasing at a rapid pace and more than its population tourists were visiting the state annually which included over two lakh foreigners. He said that in order to promote sustainable tourism, private investment, employment generation and new concepts to promote tourism had been envisioned for the state. He said that endeavours were afoot to break the seasonality factor and disperse tourism to other lesser known places, tribal and national park areas besides developing pilgrimage tourism besides utilizing the rich cultural heritage of the state for promotional activities. He said that eco tourism development could be instrumental in attracting the film units to shoot their movies in the naturally beautiful locations thereby giving boost to the tourism activities.
Virbbhadra Singh said that tourism was developed as an industry in the state in the nineteenth century when the Britishers started founding hill stations for peace, cool climate, rest and relaxation and after independence the tourism was given momentum during the 2nd Five Year Plan. He said that the government was working on serious efforts to give tourism new direction to harness the immense resource of natural, scenic and cultural wealth for the tourism activities. He said that integrated tourism development circuits valued at Rs. 62.76 crore were under implementation in the state and eight new tourist destinations at Chindi, Jhatingri, Janjehali in Mandi district, Shoja and Outer Seraj in Kullu district, Rajgarh in Sirmour district, Chanshal and Sungri-Sharaikoti in Shimla districts were being developed for being lesser known places. He said that to produce skilled manpower to man the industry tourism education had been started at graduate and post-graduate level.
Chief Minister emphasized the need for proper marketing, promotion and positive image building of the state with better coordination between the policy makers and the sectoral tourism players to gear the development of tourism. He said that balanced tourism development spread all over the country was required than concentrating only on some selected states so that every type of tourism activity was available to the tourists visiting country all over the world. He said that tourism had the potential of generating vast employment and self employment avenues the world over. He hoped that workable solutions would accrue from the international conference to boost tourism and coordination.
Chief Minister also released two publications brought out by Dr. S.P.Bansal, Chairman of the Conference.
Tarun Sridhar, Commissioner Tourism, welcomed the delegates to the state and delivered his keynote address. He said that tourism was a wide concept which included a number of activities. He said that it had emerged one of the biggest, 620 billion dollar industry in the world and was further growing with every passing year. He said that integrated tourism was the need of the hour to make it a viable and employment generating avocation.
Prof. Anil Wilson, Vice Chancellor, HP University, said that tourism was inter-disciplinary and depend much on the life styles people live in. He said that in the wider terms tourism consisted of various activities which related to money spending and merry making.
Dr. S.P. Bansal, Chairman, of the Conference, welcomed the Chief Minister and delegated from within and outside the country. He detailed the itinerary of the international conference and objective to hold the same at Shimla.
John Sims, Managing Director of Himalayan Ski Village and Brig. S.C. Pathak, HRD Manager apprised the delegates about the unique features of the international level Ski Village being developed in the Kullu valley.
Prof. W.Bihu, Professor, Centre for Recreation and tourism Research, Peking University, China also spoke about the tourism activities in China and its similarity with Himachal Pradesh.
Dr.B.R.Gautam, former MLA, Prof. O.P.Kandari, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Bundelkhand University, Dr. V.D.Sharma, Registrar, HP University, Prof. Shivraj Singh, Dean of Studies, HP University, Prof. Kingsley G.Guruge, from University of Kelaniya, Prof. Ricio del Carmen, Mexico University, Dr. Vic Gaffney, CEO, Indoeuro Consultants, and delegates from Australia, Austria, Sri Lanka, Finland, USA, UK and other country were also present on the occasion.