In order to harness the untapped and new tourist slots to diversify tourism in the State, the State Government is focusing on development of infrastructure, road connectivity, accommodation besides creating basic amenities in these places.

State government has launched a new initiative “Nai Raahein Nai Manjilein” to promote tourism in new areas and develop tourism infrastructure. A big thrust in right directions to boost tourism in the State is being laid as tourism is a major player in State economy. This new scheme with a budget allocation of Rs. 50 Crore in current fiscal is being implemented.

The facilities like parks, walking trails, trekkers hostel, toilets, beautification of temples, Road widening, Rain shelters, landscaping, road signals and Traffic directions, street paths, Sarais, parkings, solid waste improvements, community halls, lighting and dustbin would be developed in the new defined tourism circuits. Besides promotion of local cuisines, folk artists, local artisans, culture, attire, tour guides, eco guides, adventure guides etc would be emphasised. This would generate ample employment opportunities.

The objective of this scheme is diversification of tourism especially to rural areas and development of infrastructure at new places, promotion of rural tourism, employment and livelihood opportunities and thereafter promotion and marketing of new places. Under this new initiative, three places namely Bir Billing at District, Kangra, Janjehli in Mandi district and Chanshal in District Shimla.

Under this initiative, temporary tents, promoting adventure tourism, jungle tracking paths around Janjehli, Thunag, Shikari Devi, Puda Kedar, Tungari Top etc. would be constructed for promoting tourism activities in Janjehli. Fourty new trekking routes would also be developed in Janjehli circuit to facilitate tourists. 12 forest Rest houses would also be upgraded for the comfortable stay of the tourist. The total amount of Rs. 16.70 crore would be spent on developing the areas as attraction for tourists. In addition, Tourist Culture Centre has also been awarded under Asian Development Bank funding of Rs. 25.17 crores.

Bir Billing in Kangra district would also be developed as tourist destination under this scheme by spending Rs. 14.62 crore. Under the “Swadesh Darshan” scheme of Union Government, a paragliding institute was being set up at Bir Billing with an estimated cost of Rs. 8.07 crores.

Similarly Chanshal area in Shimla district has also been included under the scheme and a provision of Rs. 15.12 crore has been made. The area has immense potential for adventure sports, skiing and camping.

The State government is encouraging Home Stays through private sector. Nature-walks, Eco-trails, treks, trips to orchards and other attractions would be promoted in these circuits.

State government has also geared up for developing ropeways in the State to facilitate the tourists and local people. Government has decided to provide several concessions to those entrepreneurs, who are interested to invest in ropeways projects and this includes waiving off annual license free for the first 7 years. MOU has been signed with Government of Punjab for construction of Shri Naina Devi ropeway. Construction has been expedited on Dharamshala-Mecleodganj ropeway coming up at a cost of Rs. 15 crores.

Palchan to Rohtang ropeway is also underway whereas Adi Himani to Chamunda and Bhunter to Bijli Mahadev ropeways would be taken up soon. Several man-made reservoirs such as Chamera, Pong Dam, Govindsagar, Tatapani, Largi and Pandoh have immense tourism potential for being developed as major tourist attractions for adventure and water sports. Govindsagar Lake is being developed for water sports and shikara (house boat), boating, sea plane and other recreational activities would be provided. Similarly Pong Dam being a favourite destination for bird-watchers would be developed as an attraction for water sports.

State government would take up the matter for allowing water sports and recreational activities in Pandoh dam with BBMB for its development from tourism point of view. Largi dam is also being developed as tourist attraction by creating necessary infrastructure.

To support State government’s thrust on tourism, Centre government has sanctioned an ambitious project of Rs. 1892 crore to strengthen basis infrastructor in the State.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.