Success attributed to State's aggressive campaigning last year

Setting an ambitious target of attracting 1.5 crore national and international tourists this year, the Himachal Pradesh Government is happy that tourist arrivals in the hill State saw a rise of over 16 per cent during 2010 compared to 2009.

The arrival of international tourists has also gone up substantially, contributing immensely to the overall economic development of the State and its people. “In all, 1.32 core tourists visited Himachal Pradesh in 2010, compared to 1.14 crore in 2009. This includes foreigners whose arrival increased from over 4 lakh in 2009 to 4.54 lakh in 2010.”

Giving this information here, Himachal Tourism director Arun Kumar Sharma said the increase could be attributed to the aggressive campaign launched by the State Tourism Department last year under the slogan “Himachal for All Seasons and Reasons”.

Dr. Sharma said efforts are on to throw open the tribal belt and snow-capped areas of the State to tourists, and Himachal would witness the commencement of heli-taxi services this coming summer. “Already nearly two dozen destinations have been identified for the heli-taxi services, and tariffs are being worked out with companies who have been awarded contracts. We are confident of launching these services during this summer.”

Prominent tourist destinations like Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Dharamsala, Dalhousie and Kasauli attracted a majority of the tourists.

Most foreign tourists came from the US, Canada, Australia and Britain, and now the target would be to attract tourists from other parts of the world.

According to estimates, around Rs. 300 crore is likely to be injected into the State economy every year through the tourism sector.

Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Kangra district, which hosted two Indian Premier League cricket matches last year, attracted around 50,000 tourists during the IPL season.

Himachal has stepped up its network within and outside the State to tap the tourism potential, and set up information and marketing offices at 17 places, including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

“We are taking part in international exhibitions and marts, and had recently visited the Macau and Dubai exhibitions to promote Himachal as a major tourist destination in the country,” he said.