Uttarakhand Tourism is taking a slew of new initiatives to establish the state as a global tourism destination. “We need to understand our strengths and weaknesses. We have to have changed mindset towards tourism. We have diverse tourism products and we need to highlight positive things,” Satpal Mahraj, Tourism Minister of Uttarakhand, said recently in New Delhi.
Outlining initiatives taken by his Government, Maharaj said that his ministry is working towards making the state as a destination for winter, adventure, culinary, tribal and religious tourism. “We want to develop winter tourism as our objective is to establish Uttarakhand as winter tourism destination. We want to develop a skiing complex in Auli and have requested Union Government to support financially. We want our own people to stay in India and do not travel to Europe for skiing,” he informed and added that the government is also promoting adventure and culinary tourism in the state.
Detailing on tribal tourism, the Minister said that the government is coming out with a new policy for homestay facilities in villages to offer tribal and rural experiences to visitors. As part of the strategy, the government plans to facilitate homestay facilities in tribal villages besides developing trekking routes. “We are also promoting tribal tourism. We have a vibrant tribal culture and each tribe has its own way of life, fairs, ethnic traditions and folklore. We are focusing to introduce such facilities because most tribal communities inhabit remote mountainous areas and valleys along the India-China border,” Maharaj said.
Uttrakhand also offers immense potential for birdwatchers. “The state offers a lot of potential for bird watching. We have migratory birds from Russia to Mansarovar,” he said adding that there is a need to have proper infrastructure in place to promote overall tourism in the state. “As we are not able to develop proper transportation infrastructure due to environmental policy, we have requested Prime Minister to change the name of Prime Minister Rural Road Scheme to Prime Minister Rural Connectivity Scheme. Under this, we can use ropeway to connect those places which cannot be connected with roads,” Maharaj suggested. He also stated that helicopter services should be promoted to connect destinations in hilly states. “We are going to expand helicopter service in the state. We will use it for heli-skiing as well,” he said. The state tourism ministry is also promoting religious tourism. “We are developing Devi Circuit, Shaiv Circuit, Vaishnav Circuit, Nagraj Circuit and Mahabharata Circuit,” he informed. He also said that tourism in the state is attracting a lot of private investment.
He informed that the state received 22.55 lakh pilgrims for char dham, 1,000 for Mansarovar yatra, 415 for Adi Kailash apart from 2.5 crores other pilgrims.