‘Promote Himalayas as tourist destination’

New Delhi: The Himalayas need to be promoted robustly as an adventure destination for round-the-year flow of tourists in the country, experts said here Wednesday.

Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) roundtable on adventure tourism, the experts said the tourist season in India is between October to March but if the Himalayas are opened, the remaining months can be utilised as well.

“We are losing tourists to Nepal when it comes to adventure sports like climbing expeditions as we are not able to open the Himalayas. We need to promote the Himalayas to boost adventure tourism,” said Akshay Kumar, president, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI).

“Around 70 percent of the Himalayas are in India and not Nepal,” he added.

According to experts, there was an urgent need to build air strips in remote Himalayan locations and kick-start air services so as to ease access to the region.

Foreign tourists seeking adventure sports like Himalayan expeditions throng to Nepal instead of India as they have proper air services there in place.

However, in India there is the option of reaching the Himalayas by either helicopters, which are expensive and don’t allow the luxury of carrying luggage, or by road which takes three to four days, said the experts.

The experts further urged the government to help in implementing comprehensive safety guidelines, and providing satellite phones and insurance cover, among others, to further promote adventure tourism.

Subhash Goyal of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) announced that the government had allocated a budget of Rs.3 crore to promote ‘Incredible Indian Himalayas’ and that he would take up all the other requests with the tourism ministry as well.

The Indian adventure tourism industry has an estimated turnover of up to Rs.2,500 crore annually and is growing at an annual rate of 15 to 20 percent per annum. It employs 20,000 people directly.

-IANS

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