MPs request for better air and rail connectivity, and providing amenities for promoting Tourism in the Himalayan states.
The Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge), Culture (Independent Charge) and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma held consultations with the Members of Parliament (MPs) from J&K, HP and Uttarakhand in New Delhi today to discuss modalities for developing the Himalayan Circuit. The Himalayan Circuit has been identified under the new Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Union Ministry of Tourism for promoting tourism.
Among those who participated in the meeting include Shri Anurag Singh Thakur (MP, Hamirpur), Shri Virender Kashyap (MP, Shimla), Ms. Mehbooba Mufti (MP, Anantnag), Shri Thupstan Chhewang (MP, Ladakh), Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (MP, Hardwar), Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari (MP, Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar), Smt. Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah (MP, Tehri Garhwal) among others.
The Members of Parliament welcomed this initiative of the Union Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma to hold consultations with the MPs representing various states and they also put forward their valuable suggestions in the meeting for the development of the Himalayan circuit.
Addressing the MPs, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that 73 percent of the Himalayas lie within Indian territory and India can utilize this unique advantage to boost the growth of tourism in the Himalayan Circuit. He said that tourism contributes foreign exchange in a big way to the exchequer of India and it contributes 6.8 percent of the GDP share in India. He said that Rs 120 crore have been allocated for the development of the Himalayan circuit and the amount can be effectively utilized for drawing up a road map which will be decided after consultations with the MPs concerned. The Members of Parliament have an in depth knowledge of the requirements of their areas from the viewpoint of promoting tourism and they can help the Ministry of Tourism to identify and explore new areas where tourism can be given a boost, he added. The Minister said that our target is to enhance the India’s share in global tourism to 1 percent from the current level of about 0.64 percent.
The MPs shared their views and identified the areas where the Ministry of Tourism should look into seriously and find ways to improve them in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Road ,Transport and Highways.
Ms. Mehbooba Mufti said the state of Jammu & Kashmir wants to turn around its economy and tourism appears to be the best way of doing it. Boosting Tourism will help to generate income and employment for the local people and also help in diversification. Ms Mufti highlighted the need for starting additional flights from Srinagar Airport to facilitate more inflow of tourists as well as connecting Jammu with more direct trains. Business tourism will get a big boost if Convention Halls are set up in Gulmarg and Patnitop, she explained. The MP from Anantnag also requested the help from the Centre for reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of heritage damaged by the floods.
The MPs from other places like Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh also demanded more air connectivity and development of new airports in their regions. They said that access to these places is the main hindrance to the development of Tourism. The tourist infrastructure like hotels should also be developed along with it. The MPs from Himachal Pradesh emphasized upon the development of village tourism and model ’Home stays’ should be promoted. They also said that Sports Tourism, Adventure Tourism and Religious Tourism are the main areas which can be developed for the growth of tourism in Himachal Pradesh. The proper disposal of waste material especially plastics and providing wayside amenities should draw the attention of the Tourism Ministry, they added.
The MPs from Uttarakhand requested for a mono-rail to Haridwar./Rishikesh to meet the growing menace of traffic to these areas. They also desired for developing more airports like Uttarkashi .
Addressing the concerns of MPs, Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that the Government is determined to restore the lost glory of J&K as a prime Tourist Destination . Tourism will be used to fight terrorism, he said. He assured the MPS that there will be no administrative/procedural roadblocks to the development of Tourism in the states.
The Minister said that various value additions can be done to the existing places i.e., light and sound show can be started in the places of cultural and heritage interest. He also proposed that one plan named “Himalayan Darshan” can be started where the whole Himalayan region can be connected and an aerial view of the Himalayas can be planned to attract the tourists to visit these places.
Dr Lalit Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Shri N K Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Culture and other senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Culture were also present during the meeting.