Shimla: To list out on a global map of sustainable tourism destinations, chief minister Virbhadra Singh stressed that big chain international hotels would prove to be game changers and the government would facilitate them to set up shop in the state.
Presiding over the HP Tourism Development Board meeting here yesterday, the chief minister said that Great Himalayan National Park, Kullu being granted a natural heritage status by UNESCO would go a long way in promoting tourism in the area.
With tourism industry contributing 9.75 percent to the state GDP, at the meeting he declared that the government could provide big hotel chains land on lease or help them in identifying suitable land for constructing high end hotels.
International hotel chains need to be invited to invest in Himachal as they would prove to be game changers, he said.
The chief minister asked for holding conclaves or seminars with reputed business chambers like FICCI, ASSOCHAM or CII, to attract hoteliers, many of whom were members of these associations, so as to arouse their interest in investing in Himachal’s tourism sector.
To disperse tourism into rural areas, the chief minister said that the government had decided to exempt new hotels and home stay accommodations set up in rural areas from payment of luxury tax for a period of 5 to 10 years
Being of tourist interest, Virbhadra stressed upon renovating and reconstructing old and ancient temple with traditional architectural designs.
The chief minister asked for fast tracking delayed infrastructure projects such as Jakhu Ropeway.
About Shimla Town Hall, the chief minister asked concerned departments to vacate the building so that conservation works and renovation could be carried out with the funding provided for by Asian Development Bank.
The Shimla Town Hall restoration job is a time bound and all departments currently occupying it should vacate the space early, so that beautification work can be carried out at the earliest, he said.
He asked for setting up definite time lines to get the infrastructure projects completed.
For stopping harassment of tourists visiting Shimla, the tourism department was asked to regulate entry points of railway station and bus stand.
Speaking at the meeting vice-chairman Major Vijay Singh Mankotia said that plans were afoot to have a brand ambassador for promoting Himachal as a tourism destination.
He added that reputed brands from the hospitality sector would be invited to showcase the states true potential.
Besides official and non-official members, those present at the board meeting included Mohan Chauhan, director tourism, P Mitra, chief secretary and VC Pharka, additional chief secretary tourism.