State Government had succeeded in procuring additional budgetary provisions amounting to Rs. 166 crore from Government of India to upgrade the tourism infrastructure in potential areas of the State during past four years by creating wayside amenities in different parts to facilitate visits of tourists to Himachal Pradesh. This was stated by Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, in a meeting held here today.

Chief Minister said that tourism had been the pioneer industry of the State which had been contributing significantly towards the State economy besides generating direct and indirect employment and self employment avenues to the people in the State. He said that added attention had been paid during past four years towards exploring additional possibilities to attract tourists to visit Himachal Pradesh and various facilities had been added to facilitate their visits. He said that Rs. 30 crore had recently been got sanctioned by the Government for extending tourism infrastructural facilities to other unexplored areas. He said that out of sanctioned amount of Rs.30 crore, Rs. 737.44 lakh would be spent under Integrated Development of Shivalik Range as a Tourist Circuit by way of providing Wayside Amenities; Rs. 461.27 lakh to be spent under Integrated Development of Tourism Destination by way of creating Parking Facilities at major tourist places; Rs. 904 lakhs to be spent over Tourism Development Activities in Sarkaghat Area in district Mandi; Rs. 797.44 lakh to be spent over Integrated Development of Dhauladhar Range Wayside Amenities.

Prof. Dhumal said that wayside amenities, Tourist Information Centre, Souvenir Shops, Wedding Halls, Toilets, Cloak Rooms, Picnic Spots, Rain Shelters, Rest Points etc. were being constructed in the districts of Bilaspur, Chamba, Hamirpur, Kangra, Una, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Sirmour, Solan which a separate tourism circuit had been created for concentrated development oftribal areas in the State. He said that with the creation of quality wayside amenities, more tourists had now started visiting Himachal Pradesh and during preceding financial year tourists double to the population 1.50 crore had visited Himachal Pradesh which also included highest number of 4.85 lakh foreign tourists visiting any State in the country. He said that it all had been possible due to the concentrated efforts made by the State Government in giving new dimensions to tourism. He said that a number of unexplored tourist destinations had also been developed to divert tourists from prominent tourist destinations to the new and rural destinations to enjoy close proximity with the nature.

Chief Minister said that the State Tourism Department had brought out coffee table books highlighting heritage buildings of Shimla town in ‘Har Ghar Kuchh Kehta Hai’ and ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ introducing enthusiast tourists to know about the historical background of the villages inthe State. He said that the State of Himachal Pradesh had everything for the taste of everyone and year round tourism activities were taking place in the State. He directed the authorities to complete ongoing tourism development projects on priority so that the tourism industry was developed to the maximum in coming years.

Dr. Arun Sharma, Director of Tourism, detailed the ongoing activities of the Department and said that during pat four and half a year a number of new initiatives had been taken to give boost to tourism promotion activities in the State. R.S.Gupta, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Dr. Manoj Sharma, and Additional Director of Tourism were present in the meeting.