Amphibious buses in Punjab
Punjab is developing a variety of activities to facilitate longer stays. Amphibious buses, eco-tourism, rural tourism, wildlife, freedom trails, historical and cultural tours are some of the products on offer.
By mid 2016 Punjab Tourism will introduce amphibious buses on a trial basis, from Amritsar into the wetlands where the tourists can also enjoy watching migratory birds, informs Basanta Rajkumar, Executive Director, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board ( PHTPB). “We are developing innovative tourism products on the axis of traditional and modern. We are in the process of refurbishing and restoring our forts and palaces, an aspect that Punjab has not been associated with. Gobindgarh Fort and a building inside where the Kohinoor was kept are one of them," he says.
Rajkumar points out that the state is focusing on Amritsar as a destination and developing tourism products in and around the city. "We are offering rural tourism and farm tourism for visitors to enjoy the rustic stay at farm houses with five star facilities and experience farming activities. There are 14 protected areas in Punjab which are being developed for eco-tourism.
At Abohar, tourists can see the black buck and enjoy wildlife tourism. The religious and cultural circuit in Punjab is being enhanced by adding places like Ram Tirath, Virasate-Khalsa in Anandpur Sahib apart from the Golden Temple," says Rajkumar.
The state is also developing 'freedom trails' which showcases the historical importance of Punjab, the various wars fought in the state and the struggle for independence in India. For this, monuments, memorials and museums are being restored.
Talking about the promotions and marketing plans, Rajkumar says, “In 2008 we engaged with UNWTO to chart out a Tourism Development Master Plan to guide our activities in tourism. We are following a focused market strategy with a threefold aim i.e. to increase footfalls, make them stay longer and allow them to spend more which benefits the state. Even though the volume of business has not been huge but we have grown nearly 14-15 per cent annually for the last 5 years.”
Rajkumar also informs PHTPB has been created for all promotional and marketing activities. The board works with travel trade partners from tourism and hospitality sectors in Punjab and provides them with a platform to engage with larger industry players. “Tourism has an industry status in Punjab and the private stakeholders are given fiscal and subsidy benefits to facilitate them,” explains Rajkumar. Punjab Tourism is also focusing on various international and domestic travel marts and exhibitions to showcase their products and engage with industry players for avenues to develop tourism better.
Executive Director, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board