With Himachal Pradesh’s popular destinations Shimla, Manali and Dharamshala bursting at the seams all year and becoming synonymous with traffic congestion and chaos, tourists are now “discovering” the state’s lesser-known and hassle-free attractions. Acting on the increasing interest towards offbeat destinations, the tourism department is now promoting unexplored locations to divert the pressure from saturated areas, Director of Tourism and Managing Director of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Amit Kashyap said.
“We have made one-minute videos of unexplored areas in almost all the districts in the state and are developing infrastructure in these areas. The idea is to provide livelihood at doorsteps and promote agri-, adventure- and eco-tourism,” he told PTI.
According to the department, around 1.51 crore tourists visited Himachal in 2022 and the footfall this year has already crossed 72 lakh. As per the data available, the new sought-after destinations include Pangi Valley in Chamba, Komic, Kaza, Sissu and Rangrik in Lahaul and Spiti, Nako and Raksham (between Sangla and Chitkul) in Kinnaur.
Those headed for the popular destinations too seem inclined towards the suburbs such as Mashobra, Kufri, Fagu, Narkanda, Matyana, Sandhu Kotgarh, Kotkhai (beyond Shimla), Palampur, Yol, Dhadi near Dharamshala, Naggar and Tosh near Manali and Jhanjheli in Mandi. A major factor contributing to this changing trend seems to be the hassle-free travel experience of these offbeat places.
Lucknow resident Mayank, who was visiting Matyana, said, “I was looking for peace and solace and so, booked a homestay accommodation at Matyana. It was a wonderful experience with home-cooked food, natural beauty and a peep into the village life.”
Ashwani of Karnal said, “Time is precious and I wanted to make the maximum use of my four-day vacation. So, I preferred a remote location at Giri near Solan and it saved me from the traffic congestion and parking issues.” But some people believe the homestays in the suburbs of major tourist places are eating the business of commercial facilities such as hotels.
These homestays are offering rooms at cheap prices and paying very high commissions, affecting the business of commercial hotels, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Stakeholders Association president Mohinder Seth claimed. Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu recently said Kangra would be developed as the tourism capital of Himachal Pradesh and projects such as a roller skating rink in Sakoh, golf course in Paragpur, high-end resorts in Menjha, tourism village in Narghota and Aero City in Kangra have been proposed.
The government aims to increase the tourist footfall to five crores in the coming years and heliports are being constructed in Jaskot (Hamirpur), Rakkar and Palampur (Kangra), Sultanpur (Chamba) Manali (Kullu) Jispa, Sissu, and Rangrik (Lahaul-Spiti) and Sharbo (Kinnaur) in the first phase to provide direct access to these unexplored areas.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.