Chief Secretary Sudripta Roy inaugurated the newly set up Coffee Shop at Tourist Information Centre (TIC) Tutikandi Bypass here today. This is an initiative of Department of Tourism and the Coffee Shop would be operated by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC). The catering facilities in this coffee shop were on very nominal rates and efforts would be made to operate it round the clock.

Sudripta Roy appreciated the initiative of opening the food joint at an appropriate location which would facilitate tourists round the clock and added that it would also attract local people of the town. He said that a parking for about 600 to 800 vehicles would also be constructed opposite the Tourist Information Centre for which codal formalities were being completed soon.

Chief Secretary said that the endeavour would help in promotion of tourism in the State and added that apart from information about various tourist destinations, the visitors would avail facilities like online hotel accommodation booking, sight-seeing packages etc in the Tourist Information Centre. He said that Handloom-Handicraft and HPMC products would also be displayed in the Centre to acquaint the visitors about the richness of traditional crafts of Himachal Pradesh. He said that apart from Government hotel booking, a separate counter for private hotel booking would also be offered to the Hotel Association.

Sudripta Roy said that the tourist inflow in the state was constantly increasing year after year. During the year 2011 tourist arrival to the state was 1.50 crore including 4.84 lakh foreign tourists whereas it was 1.32 crore including 4.53 lakh foreign tourists during 2010. He said that the State Government had taken new initiatives for tourism promotion with a view to divert the tourist traffic to lesser known areas and decongest the oversaturated tourist destinations. He said that ‘Home Stay’ and ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ schemes were a step forward in this direction. He said that 12 more cluster villages in the State would be developed under Har Gaon Ki Kahani scheme in the second phase and stories of selected villages have been invited through concerned Deputy Commissioners. The second phase would be started from 15th August, 2012, he said.

Chief Secretary said that 405 home stay units have been registered till date under Home Stay scheme in the rural areas of the state and tourists were availing the accommodation facilities and experiencing the culture, life-style, traditions, customs, cuisines of rural areas. He said that efforts were being made to promote adventure, heritage, pilgrimage tourism and rural tourism in the state. The focus was to develop tourism related infrastructure and to generate self-employment opportunities to the local people, he added.

Welcoming the Chief Secretary, Arun Sharma, Director Tourism informed that the Department of Tourism & Civil Aviation had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IRCTC recently for providing catering services in its three Tourist Information Centres (TICs) at Tutikandi Bypass Shimla, Solan and Dosarka (Nahan). The objective of offering such sites to IRCTC was to provide facilities at nominal rates to the tourists, he said. Lokinder Chauhan, Managing Director, HPTDC, officers of the Department of Tourism & Civil Aviation and HPTDC were present among others on the occasion.