SHIMLA-If the plains of northern India are shivering and dense fog is spoiling New Year celebrations, head for the hills of Himachal Pradesh. There will be a lot of relief as the long sunny days have rendered the hills unusually warm.
Members of the hospitality industry say it`s the prevailing bright sunny days that are attracting tourists, mainly from the plains, to the hills. They estimate that the tourist footfall is likely to cross the 50,000-mark across the state to ring in the New Year.
“As the sun is eluding the residents in the plains due to dense fog, a bright morning in the hills is an added attraction for tourists,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corp (HPTDC) general manager Yogesh Behl said.
Shimla`s meteorological director Manmohan Singh said the popular tourist destinations Shimla, Kasauli, Narkanda, Dharamsala, Palampur, Manali, Chamba and Dalhousie have been experiencing sunny days for over a week and this would continue till Jan 2.
He said the days were quite pleasant in the hills compared to the plains but the night temperature has been quite low in most tourist spots like Shimla, Narkanda, Kasauli, Manali, Dalhousie and Chamba.
General manager D.P. Bhatia of Clarke`s Hotel here said: “We are advising the tourists to travel to Kufri and Narkanda if they want to enjoy snowy landscape.”
Narkanda, the heart of the apple belt some 65 km from Shimla, has good accumulation of snow. Skiing is an added attraction there.
Shimla – known for the imperial grandeur of buildings that were once institutions of power when it was the summer capital of British India – saw the season`s first snowfall Dec 13-14. It has snowy landscape in some patches, mostly in the Mount Jakhu hills, the highest peak of the town.
Manali in Kullu district, about 250 km from here, which remained out of bounds for almost a week after the Dec 13 snowfall, is again a magnet for holidaymakers.
“The current trend of tourist arrivals indicate that most hotels will again be packed to capacity before the next year dawns,” Manali-based prominent travel agent M.C. Thakur said.
Gulaba and Solang slopes, near Manali, still have good snow accumulation and the tourists are heading there to enjoy ski or ride sledges and snow scooters, he said.
The most sought after destinations are Shimla, Narkanda, Kasauli, Sangla, Manali, Dharamsala, Palampur and Dalhousie, say travel agencies.
Behl said most HPTDC hotels in Shimla and nearby destinations were packed to capacity.
“However, in Manali the occupancy rate is 60-70 percent. But we expect 100 percent on the last day.”
The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla`s historic Ridge have been wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.
Excited holiday makers, mainly from northern states, have already started descending on tourist resorts in the state to enjoy New Year`s Eve.
Deepika Khanna, a senior executive with a Delhi-based multinational, said: “We are really enjoying the sun. The lack of snow in Shimla has not disappointed us at all.”
In the state capital, located at a height of 7,000 feet above sea level, it`s the ice that is an attraction for the tourists.
Asia`s oldest skating clay surface rink has been holding regular skating sessions since Dec 26 due to the natural formation of a thick coating of ice owing to the freezing winter.
Himachal`s economy is highly dependent on tourism, besides hydroelectric power and horticulture.
Himachal Pradesh has 2,169 registered hotels with a capacity of 55,928 beds.
Himachal to Set up 100 Swachhta Cafés Worth Rs. 10 Crore to Promote Traditional Cuisine, Collect Tonnes of Single-Use Plastic
Shimla-Swachhta cafe would be set up in Himachal Pradesh with an estimated cost of around Rs. 10 crores by the year 2023. The State Government would set up around 100 such cafes. Ten such “Swachhta Café” would be set up at important locations of the state with an estimated cost of rupees one crore with a target to collect 25 tonnes of single-use plastic items from different parts of the state by end of this financial year.
It was informed by Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Virender Kanwar recently.
Under this “Swachta Café” program, plastic waste will be purchased from the ragpickers, individuals collecting waste from households and urban local bodies at Rs. 75 per kilogram in exchange for food or other eatable items to motivate the ragpickers and individuals to keep their surroundings clean.
The Swachhta cafe will be constructed under “Village Haat Scheme” where women will be facilitated to sell medicinal plants, such as giloye, peppermint, powder of neem leaves and homemade pickles, murabba, wheat flour, pulses, spices and vegetable vat reasonable prices.
The women running the Swachhta Cafe will be given training in the hospitality sector to enable them to cook popular traditional cuisine to maintain original flavour and taste of the dishes. Around 100 such women will be trained by the hospitality experts during the current financial year, he informed.
He further informed that a target has been fixed to train around five thousand women belonging to self-help groups in the next three years in the hospitality sector to run these cafes.
The first Swachhta Café was inaugurated at Gram Panchayat Radiali in Nalagarh area in Solan, which is to be run by women self-help groups and another cafe would be opened at Naggar in Kullu Districts. Under the scheme, if a person brings more plastic waste then he can use the surplus money for dining in next time in the cafe.
Minister said that the programme aims that villages are made completely free of single-use plastic in coming years and the entire state will be covered under the scheme in a phased manner in coming years.
HP Tourism to Cook 1100 kg ‘Khichari’ at Tattapani to Promote Tourism
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department will organise ‘Tourism Festival’ on the occasion of Makar Sakranti on January 14, 2020, at Tattapani. It would be organised in collaboration with district Mandi Administration. This was disclosed by Director Tourism Department Yunus while presiding a meeting today.
He said that the objective of organizing this tourism festival is to promote Tattapani as a tourist destination. He said that for first-time tourism festival was being organised at Tattapani to make it tourism destination for Indian and Foreign tourists.
He informed that during this event, Water Sports, Satluj Aarti and cultural programmes would also be organised. On this occasion, 1100 kilogram’ Khichari’ would also be cooked and it would be especially cooked in a single utensil, he added.
This is for the first time in Himachal Pradesh that Khichari would be cooked in such large quantity and will be served to about 12,000 to 15,000 people. Special buses would also be plied by the Transport Department to reach Tattapani Tourism Festival from Mandi and Shimla on Makar Sakranti.
SDM Karsog, District Tourism Officer Mandi, representatives of NTPC, HPTDC, Language, Art and Culture Department and Tattapani Panchayat participated in the meeting among others.
ADB funds Rs. 1900 crore tourism project for Himachal
The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state, suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists.
Shimla: The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India has approved a tourism infrastructure development project worth about Rs. 1900 crores to be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for development of tourism infrastructure in the urban and rural areas of Himachal Pradesh.
With the help of this ADB funded project, the state would develop tourism in rural, unexplored areas and improve the infrastructure of the towns and also generate employment for the local youths and showcase Himachal as the best natural tourist destination state, the State Government informed.
Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Ram Subhag Singh further informed the project would be completed in eight years.
The project is supposed to focus on diversification of tourism to new and rural areas by developing tourism infrastructure, create livelihood and employment opportunities through rural, adventure and ecotourism.
The project also mentions the application of innovative models like incentive-based mechanisms for community-based tourism activities, augmentation of services like water supply, sewerage, solid waste, skill development related to the tourism sector, advertising and marketing etc.
He claimed it would be one of the finest examples of sustainable tourism in the Himalayan States.
The project will have both hard and soft components and will include beautification of towns, development of unexplored areas, conservation and restoration of heritage buildings, infrastructure development in adventure, eco, rural tourism with an emphasis on community participation and employment generation.
The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state and suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists and designed in line with sustainable tourism guideline for the Himalayan States.
The Government said the Department of Economic Affairs was satisfied with the performance and progress of the State on the ongoing ADB funded project of about Rs.600 crores.