Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while delivering his inaugural address at the inaugural session of National Conference of State Tourism Ministers being held at Dharamshala said that with an aim to promote tourism the state government had identified six themes comprising adventure, religious, nature, weekend, rural and tribal tourism. ‘Himachal Pradesh has a splendid scope of tourism and now the government has started new initiatives to explore the unexplored destinations. Nai Raahein Nai Manzilein Yojna helices will go a long way to bring numerous tourist destinations on the tourist map of the state, he said.
Chief Minister said ecotourism in Janjehli, skiing in Chanshal valley, paragliding in Bir Billing area would attract nature and adventure lovers worldwide. Emphasis had also been given on promoting water sports activities in the reservoirs of hydro- electric projects in the state, he added.
Paying gratitude to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister said that Atal Tunnel Rohtang apart from strategic point of view had proved to be a major attraction for the tourists visiting Himachal Pradesh. The tunnel had also transformed tourism potential in tribal Lahaul and Pangi vallies. The state government had initiated a massive religious tourism project ‘Shiv Dham’ in Mandi district of the state which would be completed soon, the Chief Minister said.
Chief Minister said though connectivity was a challenge in the way of tourism promotion especially in lesser-known tourist destinations, apart from expansion in link roads network, national highways were coming up. Efforts were on to improve the prospects of air connectivity in the state and the process for construction of a new airport in Mandi district was also in pipeline, the Chief Minister said.
He further said that established and well-known tourist places had almost reached saturation. Keeping in view the need to explore new tourist destinations and provide tourism related activities, Nai Raahein Nai Manzilein Yojna and Home Stay schemes had given a much needed fillip to exploration and promotion. As many as 3539 Home Stays had been registered in the state so far and domestic tariff for consumption of electricity was being charged from Home Stay owners, he said.
Earlier, the Chief Minister lighted the lamp and inaugurated the conclave. He also honoured the State Tourism Ministers participating in the event with Himachali traditions. A documentary film titled Heavenly Himachal was also screened during the session showing various aspects of the tourism scenario in Himachal Pradesh. Documentary has been produced by the state Tourism department which was appreciated by the delegates.
While speaking at the inaugural session, the Minister of State for Defence and Tourism Ajay Bhatt thanked the Chief Minister for attending the inaugural session as chief guest.
Union Minister of Tourism, Culture and Development of North Eastern Region G. Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Tourism Shripad Yeso Nayak, Chairman India Tourism Development Corporation Sambit Patra, Secretary Ministry of Tourism Arvind Singh, Member NITI Ayog Vinod Kumar Paul, Director General Ministry of Tourism and Managing Director ITDC Ltd. G. Kamala Vardhana Rao, Additional Secretary Ministry of Tourism Rakesh Kumar Verma, Principal Secretary State Tourism and Civil Aviation Devesh Kumar, Director Tourism and Civil Aviation Amit Kashyap and Deputy Commissioner Dr. Nipun Jindal were also present on the occasion.