Himachal Tourism gets 25th Award
Himachal Tourism has been conferred with 25th Award for ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ scheme launched to diversify tourism activities to promote rural tourism, at a prestigious inaugural Award Ceremony of International Tourism Conclave and Travel Award function here today. The Award presented by Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, was received by Smt. Manisha Nanda, Principal Secretary Tourism and Dr. Arun Sharma, Director of Tourism and Civil Aviation on behalf of the Department.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister said that the State was contemplating 20-Year perspective long term Tourism Master Plan and laying down the policies for development of quality infrastructure in the State to promote tourism on sustainable basis and to forecast the carrying capacity of the area. He said that private sector was being motivated to develop tourism related infrastructural facilities in the State which were in consonance with the ecology and environment. He said that the main thrust would be on generation of employment and self- employment to local youth by promoting new concepts in tourism. He said that Tourism sector was contributing 9.57 percent to the State Domestic Product and arrival of tourists during calendar year 2011 had crossed the figure of 1.5 crore which included 4.85 lakh foreigners, the highest in any of the States of the country. He said that efforts were afoot to create infrastructure to cater to the requirements of the high-end tourists which added value as well as contributed substantially to the economy.
Prof. Dhumal said that the State was in the process of identifying land for development of airport where private sector had also been invited to invest in aviation field. He said that the State had a network of 60 helipads, mostly in rural and tribal areas, which could cater to the needs of high-end tourists. He said that proposals from private parties had also been invited to develop golf courses, amusement parks, film cities and ropeways in different parts of the State. He said that there was tax holiday for ropeways for five years and hotels in tribal years for ten years. He said that ‘Har Gaon Ki Kahani’ had been instrumental in giving new direction to rural tourism. He said that the ‘Home Stay Scheme’ was the one which had diverted tourist traffic from towns to rural areas and all units registered under the scheme were free from any taxes, even electricity and water bills were also being charged on domestic rates.
Chief Minister invited developers to come forward with their investment proposals to utilize the natural grandeur in the State to the optimum. He also gave away prizes to winners in different sectors related to tourism.
Shri R.H.Khwaja, Secretary Tourism, Government of India, lauded the bold initiative to make Himachal plastic free, which had further added to natural beauty in the State. He said that the Government of India would be considering more concessions to the hospitality industry. He also wanted rationalization of taxes in the State to give boost to tourism promotion.He appealed to the hospitality industry to discharge their corporate responsibility in an effective manner.
Smt. Manisha Nanda, Principal Secretary Tourism, welcomed the Chief Minister, other dignitaries and participants from different parts of the world to attend the Conclave in Himachal Pradesh. She elaborated the initiatives, State had taken in strengthening tourism industry and said that peaceful environment and natural grandeur had been biggest asset in attracting tourists to visit Himachal Pradesh. She lauded the contribution of women entrepreneurs and hospitality professionals in giving new directions to the industry.
Shri Subhash Verma, President, Domestic Tour Operators Association of India and Shri K.S.Sahni also addressed the inaugural ceremony.
Shri Ajay Gupta, Managing Director of the Creative Minds, the organizing concern, proposed vote of thanks.
Shri Vipul Mitra, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of Gujarat, Shri Ashwani Lohani, Divisioinal Regional Manager, Indian Railways, Shri Onkar Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Shri Lokender Chauhan, Managing Director, HP Tourism Development Corporation, representatives from China, Korea, Mauritius, other Asian countries, and representatives from different States of the country attended the Award ceremony.