All hail progressive Punjab!
Shivdular Singh Dhillon, Special Secretary cum Director, Department of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archaeology—Museums & Archives, Punjab, reveals the state’s tourism focus and thrust.
QWhat is the key focus of Punjab Tourism today? The tourism potential of Punjab has been one of the best guarded secrets for very long. The focus is now on sharing this secret with the world. Towards this end, the varied attractions of Punjab including its heritage, monuments, glorious history, vibrant festivals, mouth-watering cuisine and the joie de vivre of people are all being exposed and put together on a platter for tourists.
QHas Punjab’s rich heritage played a role in the state’s overall attraction factor for tourists? It is a fact that the heritage and history of Punjab are major pull factors. This is a land with more than 5,000 years of history with sites of the Indus valley and Harappan civilisation. Several grand monuments all over the state tell the stories of bygone eras.
QWhat are Punjab’s three key tourist attractions? The jewel in the crown is of course the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which has already been declared by the World Book of Records as the most visited destination in the world. museum at Anandpur Sahib is amongst the most visited museums in the country. The forts and palaces of Patiala tell the ‘larger than life’ stories of Patiala, including that of the Patiala Peg and the Patiala Gharana of music. This is a place where legion and history dovetail with each other.
QIs Punjab Tourism developing any new tourist circuits? Punjab - the state that brought the Green Revolution to the country, is today showcasing its farmhouses tourists. These farm stays are becoming increasing popular on the Punjab tourism circuits and are adding value to various circuits such as the Heritage circuit, the Religious circuit and the Mughal circuit.
QWhich are the main feeder areas for Punjab’s incoming tourism? Punjab is attracting tourists and visitors from all over. On the domestic front, more than 1,00,000 visitors who come daily to Amritsar include visitors not only from Punjab but also other states, including the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and eastern states of West Bengal and Orissa. So far as international tourism is concerned, the main international tourist and visitor contingents come from the UK, the USA, Australia, France and Germany, among others.
QPunjab’s tourist mainstay has been domestic tourists. Is there any recent focus on getting foreign tourists? Yes, there most certainly is a focus to increase foreign tourist arrivals in the state. Thanks to the large Punjabi diaspora spread out across the globe; today the overall awareness about the tourist potential of Punjab is spreading in a big way across the borders. Last year, the number of foreign tourist arrivals witnessed a growth of over 65 per cent.
QIs Punjab Tourism keeping the ‘environment’ factor in mind while developing its tourism industry? Punjab tourism is now focussing on ecotourism. Towards this end, we have developed tourist facilities at nature sites such as the Keshopur and Harike wetlands, which got some 97,000 winged visitors last year. A Bird Festival at Keshopur has also been started as an annual feature. These initiatives are bringing increased awareness about the environment. Incentives for ‘green’ hotels and resorts are being provided to encourage ecofriendly units in the state.
Shivdular Singh Dhillon Special Secretary cum Director, Department of Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archaeology— Museums & Archives, Punjab