A virtual round table discussion on the topic of ‘Tourism & Rural Development’ was organised by the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board on the occasion of World Tourism Day which talked about the current situation of tourism in the state. Trivendra Singh Rawat, Chief Minister Uttarakhand, was the chief guest for the webinar and Satpal Maharaj, Tourism Minister, Government of Uttarakhand was the Special Guest of Honour along with Special Guest Dilip Jawalkar, Secretary Tourism, Govt. Of Uttarakhand.
Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat said that tourism had slowed down due to COVID-19 but tourism activities will improve rapidly as the situation returns to normal. For this, theme-based tourist spots are being developed in every district in the state. CM said that the upcoming winter season will encourage tourists to visit Uttarakhand.
The Chief Minister during the webinar said, “Tourism in Uttarakhand is continuously increasing and the state is promoting religious and other tourism-based activities. Tourism is also one of the major sector providing employment opportunities”.
Uttarakhand is a state with diverse biodiversity. Snow-covered mountain ranges, exquisite flora and fauna and good human resources attract the attention of tourists towards Devbhumi Uttarakhand. Snow Leopard Park is being built in the Uttarkashi district. Continuous efforts are being made by the government to have tourism-based activities throughout the year in Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand has a favorable environment for activities like kayaking, rafting, paragliding. Efforts are being made to promote tourism in marginal areas. Homestay is being promoted in the state, more than 2200 homestays have been registered in the state and beautiful homestays have been made in districts like Almora, Pithoragarh and Pauri. Tourists have shown keen interest in homestays and these homestays are also providing good employment opportunities for the people in Uttarakhand. The Chief Minister said that there are best facilities equipped for tourists to visit Uttarakhand. The natural and scenic beauty of Uttarakhand during winters inspires tourists to come here.
During the webinar, Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj said, “Tourism sector has contributed significantly to Uttarakhand’s GDP. We are moving towards environmentally conscious tourism, efforts are being made to improve the livelihood of local people through tourism and pilgrimage activities. Our effort is to turn disaster into an opportunity. The theme of World Tourism Day this year is based on ‘Tourism and Rural Development. Along with rural development, several efforts are being made by the state government to promote tourism in the mountainous regions. We are sure that in the coming days our overall efforts will again change the picture of Uttarakhand, tourism activities will improve people’s livelihood.
He further added, “We have already completed the Bhagwati circuit to create an environment conducive to promote religious tourism in the state. Work on Lord Shiva, Vaishnav Circuit, Navagraha Circuit, Nag Devta Circuit, Goel Devta, Ramayana and Mahabharata Circuit, Vivekananda, Shakya and Mahasu Devta Circuit are going on in full scale. After the completion of the new circuits, new avenues of religious tourism will open in the state. Additionally, the Indian Railways is all set to lay a railway line from Rishikesh to Karnprayag.
The Tourism Minister said that Uttarakhand has to be promoted as the most preferred state for health tourism, promoting traditional cuisines as an immunity booster. Uttarakhand is a repository of polyherbs, spices, which are known for its therapeutic use and have been used for centuries by sages and exponents of Ayurveda. We are considering developing the state as “Himalayan immunity cuisine” by combining the rich heritage of Kumaoni and Garhwali cuisines
Secretary Tourism, Dilip Jawalkar said, “The tourism industry is an important pillar of Uttarakhand’s economy, which has the potential to lift the state from the influence of COVID-19. For the rural communities of Uttarakhand, tourism directly means opportunity. It provides economic empowerment for women and youth. Tourism encourages rural communities to protect and promote their traditional culture and heritage. These qualities provide a unique experience for the tourists”.
Panel speakers – Prasoon Joshi, Manisha Pandey, Marilyn Ward from Canada, Vipul Prakash, Mandeep Singh, Dhanush Singh gave their suggestions.