Himachal holding travel mart to promote tourism

Shimla, April 22 (IANS) In a bid to attract more foreign and domestic tourists, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh is organising a three-day travel mart here from Friday.

“Delegates from 10 countries, mainly from the tour and travel industry, have been invited to the ‘Himachal Travel Mart’,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board vice chairman Vijai Singh Mankotia told reporters here.

Official delegates from eight states, including Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Bihar, will also participate.

“The media from Britain, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Nepal and Sri Lanka, who are into writing travelogues, have been specially invited to project Himachal Pradesh as an international tourist destination,” Mankotia, a former tourism minister, said.

According to him, delegates from renowned travel agencies from across the globe, including Aviatour 24 of Germany and Liberty Travel from the US, are also participating.

Mankotia said the hill state was looking for private investment in adventure tourism like mountaineering, paragliding, rock climbing and mountain biking, for which the state has a lot of potential that remains untapped.

“Similarly, we need investments in starting cruise services, including ‘shikaras’ and water sports, at the Bilaspur and Chamba lakes. This will attract tourists without causing harm to the water bodies.”

Linking the state’s trans-Himalayan areas of Kinnaur and Spiti with the neighbouring Buddhist-dominated Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir will be a major initiative to boost tourism in the region, he said.

“We are trying to market the Buddhist sites in both the states jointly. Now that a stable government has been formed in Jammu and Kashmir, we will try to make contact with authorities there,” Mankotia said.

Admitting that bad roads and poor air connectivity are hampering Himachal tourism, he said he had received numerous complaints from visiting tourists about traffic snarls and parking blues at major tourist destinations in the state.

“Our focus now is mainly on constructing parking lots in Shimla,” Mankotia added.

Himachal Pradesh attracts tourists from abroad, especially Israel, Germany, Britain and several other European countries, not only for nature-based activities but also for exploring historic and ancient monasteries.

The number of tourists every year exceeds the state’s population of about 6.8 million.

Kullu-Manali is a favourite tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.

–IANS

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