The State Government has identified 113 sites to be developed from eco- tourism point of view and out of these sites, 5 sites have been given on PPP mode, 16 to the State Forest Department and 47 to HP the State Forest Corporation for starting eco-tourism activities at these sites. This was stated by Chief Minister Shri Jai Ram Thakur while inaugurating the two days International Conference on ‘Eco-Tourism Potential in Himachal Pradesh’ organized by the State Forest Department and Eco-Tourism Society of Himachal Pradesh at Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali in Kullu district today.
He said that in addition 25 new destinations would be developed by constructing log huts for stay of tourists in the lap of nature. He said that three eco-tourism hubs would be developed during the current financial year. He said that 10 places would be developed from adventure tourism point of view with the close coordination of Eco Tourism Society, Tourism Department and Mountaineering Institute, Manali. He said that 31 eco-tourism circuits has been prepared and would be sent for approval to the Centre.
Shri Jai Ram Thakur said that eco-tourism activities not only associate people with the nature but it can also prove a major employment and self-employment generator for the youth of the State. He said that nature parks and herbal gardens were being developed in the State. He said that 50 Forest Rest Houses have been used to start eco-tourism activities in the State. He said that efforts would be made to link eco-tourism with the rural life, culture and traditions. He said that this would not only give boost to the unexplored and virgin tourist destinations of the State, but also help in increasing economic activities in the rural areas of the State.
Chief Minister said that Himachal Pradesh has immense potential to emerge as the best tourist destination of the world. He said that natural beauty, clean environment and above all peaceful law and order situation were some added attractions for the tourists visiting the State. He said that for the first time a provision of Rs 50 crore has been made in the budget for tourism sector. He said that new scheme ‘Nayae Rahaien Nayae Manzilain’ envisioned for the State to explore new tourist destinations in the State. He said that the State Government has banned use of thermocol cup plates in the State from 5th June on the occasion of World Environment Day. These steps would go a long way in ensuring clean environment of the State.
Shri Jai Ram Thakur said that eco-tourism could have several components such as trekking, mountain biking, river rafting, skiing, heli-skiing, camping, rock climbing, bird watching etc. He said that this would not only provide much needed solace to the tourists visiting these pristine new places in the State, but also lessen the burden on already crowded tourist destinations of the State. He said that the State has immense potential of eco-tourism as it has been blessed with diverse flora and fauna. He said that the Government would make efforts to associate private players to invest in eco-tourism projects in the State.
He also presented a proposal of eco-tourism development in the State to the Union Minister. He also released a souvenir brought out by the Eco-tourism Society of Himachal Pradesh and a souvenir of Roerich Art Museum.
Chief Minister also filled a membership form of Eco Club on the occasion. Several MoUs for eco-tourism projects were signed on the occasion between different organizations and companies.
Chief Minister announced that the left bank Manali road would be taken up through World Bank of CRF funding for its timely completion, he also announced up gradation of Government Primary School Rangi to Middle School and construction of Indoor stadium at Manali.
Earlier, the Chief Minister visited Nature Park at Babeli, in Kullu district and planted a sapling on the occasion.
Union Minister of State for Tourism Minister Shri K. J. Alphons while speaking on the occasion said that the State has immense tourism potential which needs to be harnessed judiciously. He said that the future of India was in tourism as global tourism grew by 7 per cent, but tourism in India grew by 15.6 per cent. He said that every part of India is unique in itself and a real treasure house of surprises stored for tourists. He said that Himachal Pradesh has immense potential for adventure and nature tourism. He said that private entrepreneurs should be involved in a big way to harness the immense tourism potential of the State.
Tourism and Transport Minister Shri Govind Thakur said that the eco-tourism was well suited for the State of Himachal Pradesh as it has diverse ecology and adequate forest cover. He said that the stress of the State Government was to ensure tourism development in the State with minimum impact on environment.
Member of Parliament Shri Ram Swaroop Sharma while welcoming the delegates to the Conference said that the conference would give a new boost to the tourism development in the State.
Noted International wrestler Shri Daleep Singh Rana alias The Great Khali who is the Brand Ambassador of ‘Plastic Hatao’ Campaign, urged the people to say no to plastic for keeping our environment neat and clean.
Additional Chief Secretary Forests and Chairman Eco-tourism Society Shri Tarun Kapoor while detailing the main highlights of two day conference said that this conference would go a long way in chalking out the strategies for promotion of eco-tourism in the State.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shri Ajay Kumar welcomed the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on the occasion.
MLAs Shri Surender Shourie and Shri Sunder Singh Thakur, former MP Shri Maheshwar Singh, Deputy Commissioner Kullu Shri Yunus, SP Kullu Smt. Shalini Agnihotri were present on the occasion among others.