TOURISM in Uttarakhand, which slumped after flash floods devastated the northern Indian state in June, will receive a boost from local and national level governments through a slew of initiatives.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 29th annual convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, Uttarakhand department of tourism’s secretary, Umakant Panwar, said that major changes in the state’s tourism policy would be announced in a month’s time.
The changes would “provide tax exemptions to private players looking to invest in Uttarahkand on medium- and short-term bases”.
Said Panwar: “We plan to invest around US$151.5 million in the tourism sector with assistance from the central government and the Asian Development Bank. The government of India and the state government plan to invest around US$909.1 million in the next three to four years for rebuilding infrastructure in the state, including roads, water supply and electricity.”
The state tourism department is also planning fam trips to assure tour operators that the state is safe for travelling.
At the same time, the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board is inviting tenders for a US$757.6 million mega project around Tehri Lake, which is expected to be completed in five years. Modelled on Italy’s Lake Como, the development will comprise of adventure sports facilities, leisure activities and a township. The board also wants to promote MICE and film tourism.
According to trade sources, tourist arrivals plunged 85 per cent since the mid-June floods. The state welcomed 28.4 million tourists in 2012.
“Post-flash floods, tourists are scared to come to Uttarakhand even though only Kedarnath was affected by the natural calamity,” noted Panwar.
Commented Subhash Verma, president, Travel Plus: “There has been a misconception among travellers that the entire state is unsafe for travel. With the efforts of the government, I expect tourism in the state to revive completely in the next two years.”