Home to a large number of historical sites and hidden treasures in terms of wildlife attractions, the state of Punjab is now set to expand its appeal to international and domestic tourists. As per Basanta Rajkumar, Executive Director, Punjab Heritage & Tourism Promotion Board (PHTPB), “It’s time to bring forth the rich history revolving around the quest for freedom, nature and wildlife, so that tourists get opportunity to witness the spectacular state beyond in addition to the Golden Temple, Wagah Border and the Jalianwalah Bagh.”
This objective of PHTPB revolves around engineering rural farm tours, classic freedom struggle trail and wildlife trails capable of increasing tourist’s inflow and also extending their stay in the state.
“The state of Punjab has a large number of its people settled abroad in foreign countries including USA, Canada and London to name a few. Over the span of time these people retain their strong connection with their original home state and also want their third generations to know the rural lifestyle and background of their parents.”
PHTPB has started a farm tourism policy to encourage private players to enroll their farm houses, with attached agricultural land and use them to cater to Indian and foreign tourists. Many of the farm house owners have created comfortable and hygienic accommodation for tourists accordingly and also make a point to introduce tourists to the rural way of living by showing local agriculture practices such as floriculture, harvesting, and bee keeping, etc., revealed Rajkumar.
Similarly, PHTPB has been working on putting up freedom struggle trails that celebrates the immense struggle being put by the people of Punjab against several empires for their freedom.
“Punjab has produced innumerable epics of brave fights against foreign rulers. Research shows that the Anglo-Sikh war was one of the hardest classic battles fought in the world. Hence, the circuits build around celebrating Virasat-e-Khalsa is a sure bet to take visitors beyond the Golden Temple and into the nearby museums and interpretations centres,” he added.
In a recent report by IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation (IL&FS IDC), a National Level Consultant by Ministry of Tourism, the Freedom Trail along Patiala-Nabha-Malerkotla-Jagraon-Ferozpur-Amritsar-Ajnala had been identified to be developed in an integrated manner with Central Financial Assistance and appropriate involvement of State Governments and private sector.
Also, a large number of unexplored wetlands, bird sanctuaries and zoological parks spread all over Punjab is on the radar of PHTPB to create quality avenues for the nature and wildlife lovers. “Punjab is also endowed with world’s best wetlands namely Hari-ke-pattan, Kanjli Wetland, and Ropar Wetland. These are ideal sites to be converted into state-of-the-art leisure sites for global Eco-Tourism,” said Rajkumar.
Shows like SATTE give PHTPB a great advantage and opportunity to showcase their plans and offerings with the best of stakeholders in the travel industry, believes Rajkumar. “We will continue to partner with UBM and make use of this platform to display the best of Punjab with the globe,” he added.