The picturesque valleys and salubrious climate of Himachal Pradesh have been attracting tourists from India and abroad throughout the year. The present state government is according priority to develop Himachal as a Tourism State so that enduring employment for the youth and an increase in the income of the local people can be ensured. In view of this, adventure activities like trekking, camping, paragliding, and river rafting are being specifically promoted along with religious tourism.
The efforts of the state government are now clearly visible. Recently, a three-day Asian Rafting Championship was successfully organized on the Beas River at Nadaun in Hamirpur district. Participants from countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Kazakhstan participated in it. After Kullu-Manali, Nadaun has emerged as a new center for rafting on the Beas River. To give an uplift to tourism activities in the Nadaun area, a project worth Rs 2500 crore is proposed with the help of the Asian Development Bank.
Activities related to water sports are also being organized in Govind Sagar Lake located in Bilaspur district. Similarly, water sports are also being promoted in the Kol Dam reservoir at Tatapani in the Mandi district. Promotion of water sports, shikara, cruise, and yacht facilities are also being made in Pong Dam of Kangra district.
The state government is promoting the development of tourism activities in accordance with modern needs along with traditional tourism. A Golf Course meeting international standards will be developed in the ‘Tourism Capital’ Kangra. A large Zoo is being constructed in Bankhandi at a cost of Rs 300 crore. The government has made a provision of Rs 60 crore for its first phase in its maiden budget. ‘Tourist Village’ is also being established to encourage local art and culture. In this, employment opportunities will be provided to the local youth by showcasing local art, culture, handicrafts, music, etc. In a new concept, ‘Old Age Homes’ will be developed for senior citizens and will be linked with tourism activities.
Apart from this, the government has announced a comprehensive tourism development scheme of Rs 1311 crore with the help of the Asian Development Bank. Under it, Rs 390 crore will be spent in Kangra district, Rs 257 crore in Hamirpur, Rs 229 crore in Kullu, Rs 123 crore in Shimla, Rs 138 crore in Mandi district, and Rs 174 crore in other districts on tourism development. Under this, a detailed action plan has been prepared for modern facilities at tourist places like electric buses, water sports, theme parks, wayside amenities, high-end food courts, beautification of heritage sites, and eco-tourism. In order to ensure the smooth organization of summer and winter sports, the upgradation of the Shimla Ice skating rink and ice skating and roller skating facilities in Manali will be developed.
Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that permanent employment opportunities can be created by connecting local youth with tourism. This will not only ensure tourism development but also increase the revenue of the state. Special focus is also being given to making the youth skilled as per the current needs of the tourism sector by providing training on skill development in the tourism and hospitality sectors, he remarked.