09 October 2005

Himachal to prepare blueprint of tracks

Tribune article

Bid to attract global tourists

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 8

The Forest department will prepare a blueprint of all the tracks connecting religious shrines, forts and other places of historical and cultural importance in the state, information of which will be available at the click of a mouse on the official website.

It is with the objective of promoting eco-tourism and providing avenues of employment for the villagers that the tracks are being identified. With more and more tourists preferring to go in for adventure activities like trekking, the government hopes to attract a large number of visitors from all over the world.

Since the information regarding the tracks, places of interest along the route, lodging facility and the nearest road or rail head would be available on the website, a person sitting in America can decide his destination and get bookings done.

“To begin with we have identified two tracks, one form Nainadevi shrine to Bhadrapur and the other in the Kutlehar area adjoining the Gobindsagar water body,” informed Forest Minister Ram Lal Thakur.

Apart from identifying the interesting tracks, the department is also planning to create infrastructure for tourists near the Pin Valley and Great Himalayan National Park, as part of eco-tourism promotion. Similar facilities like tent accommodation and camping sites would be made available at other wildlife sanctuaries.

The Forest Department has already started the task of creating infrastructure along these tracks for the convenience of the visitors. To begin with some of the forest rest houses located in the most idyllic locations are being repaired and refurbished. The Forest Department has over 140 rest houses all over the state, which will be thrown open to the visitors.

“We have got very good response from the scheme to hand over the rest houses of the Forest Department to the Forest Corporation for providing accommodation to tourists,” said Mr Thakur. Within the last three years, an income of Rs 3.50 lacs has come from the three rest houses, which have been thrown open for tourists in the first phase.

Interestingly, it is not just the Forest Department and the tourism department, which stand to benefit by developing these tracks as there will be special emphasis on involvement of locals. “The locals will be involved in the scheme as they can work as guides and even offer their houses for stay of the visitors, who wish to have a feel of the rural life and hill culture,” said Mr Thakur.

Keeping in mind the fact that no scheme can be a success without community participation, the mahila mandals, youth clubs and local panchayats will be involved.

On the behalf of the department, the concerned Range Officers will ensure that all facilities and information is extended to the visitors.

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