With Himachal Pradesh’s renowned destinations Shimla, Manali, and Dharamshala becoming synonymous with traffic congestion and chaos, tourists are “discovering” the state’s lesser-known and hassle-free attractions.
Amit Kashyap, Director of Tourism and Managing Director of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC), stated that, in response to the growing interest in unconventional destinations, the tourism department is now promoting unexplored locations to divert pressure from oversaturated regions.
“We have produced one-minute recordings of unexplored areas in nearly all of the state’s districts and are constructing infrastructure in these regions. The goal is to promote agri-, adventure-, and eco-tourism and provide livelihoods at the doorstep, he told PTI.
According to the department, approximately 1.51 million tourists visited Himachal Pradesh in 2022, and the number of visitors this year has already surpassed 72 million. According to available data, Pangi Valley in Chamba, Komic, Kaza, Sissu, and Rangrik in Lahaul, and Spiti, Nako, and Raksham (between Sangla and Chitkul) in Kinnaur are the most popular new destinations.
Those who are travelling to popular destinations also appear to be drawn to the suburbs of Mashobra, Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda, Matyana, Sandhu Kotgarh, Kotkhai (beyond Shimla), Palampur, Yol, Dhadi close to Dharamshala, Naggar and Tosh close to Manali, and Jhanjheli in Mandi.
The hassle-free travel experience of these off-the-beaten-path locations appears to be a major contributor to this shift.
Mayank, a resident of Lucknow who was visiting Matyana, explained, “I was seeking peace and tranquilly, so I booked a homestay in Matyana. It was a delightful experience that included home-cooked meals, natural beauty, and a glimpse of village life.” Ashwani of Karnal stated, “Time is limited, so I wanted to maximise my four-day vacation. Therefore, I chose a remote location in Giri near Solan to avoid transportation congestion and parking issues.” However, some believe that homestays in the suburbs of key tourist destinations are displacing commercial establishments such as hotels.
Mohinder Seth, the president of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Stakeholders Association, asserted that the low prices and excessive commissions charged by these homestays are harming the commercial hotel industry.
Recently, Himachal Pradesh’s chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, announced that Kangra would be developed as the state’s tourism capital. Several projects, including a roller skating centre in Sakoh, a golf course in Paragpur, high-end resorts in Menjha, a tourism village in Narghota, and Kangra’s Aero City, have been proposed.
In the first phase, heliports are being built in Jaskot (Hamirpur), Rakkar and Palampur (Kangra), Sultanpur (Chamba), Manali (Kullu), Jispa, Sissu, and Rangrik (Lahaul-Spiti), and Sharbo (Kinnaur) to provide direct access to these unexplored areas. The government aims to increase the number of tourists to five crores in the coming years.
Source- the print