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.

TravTalk - India - - TECHNOLOGY - In­der Raj Ah­luwalia

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

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