Tourism is a swiftly expanding sector in Punjab. Focusing on existing rich culture of the State, Punjab Government has decided to give a major fillip to tourism and promote rural tourism in the State. For the purpose, the Government has identified a cluster of four villages namely Katli, Bahadarpur, TibbaTapparian and Ranjitpura Bas in Rupnagar district which would be developed with the entire infrastructure needed to provide a new experience to the tourists visiting the State.
In order to tap the potential, there is a dire need to focus on certain key issues such as participation of local government, efficient tourism promotion and development programs, cooperation between local government and entrepreneurs and community support for tourism development are essential for successful tourism in Punjab.
Punjab tourism showed healthy 5.29 per cent growth in 2011 thanks to strong domestic arrivals. Punjab welcomed 10.11 million tourists in 2011 comparing to 10.05 million in 2010.
The growth for Punjab tourism primary came from domestic sector. There was 5 per cent increase in domestic tourists to Punjab.In 2010 Punjab saw 10.58 million domestic tourists in the state and in 2011 the number grew to 16.42 million. Foreign tourist arrivals increased merely 13,000 to 150,000 in 2011 comparing to 137,000 in 2010.
In past few years Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board has taken several steps to boost tourism in Punjab. Tourism board has chalked out plan to increase tourist activity in the state. Punjab is now one of the popular tourist destination in India.The construction of state-of-the-art ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ Conceived as a repository of the rich heritage of the Khalsa, showcasing the old history and culture of Punjab, the heritage complex has been built on a 100-acre site to emphasise the eternal message of the Sikh gurus. the budget of Rs 71.76 crore by Punjab government for the construction of state-of-the-art Virasat-e-Khalsa phase-II project .
Tallest victory tower ‘FatehBurj’ in the country is in Punjab. The 328-ft tower is dedicated to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur who had the distinction of establishing the Sikh rule in India in 1711. At 328-ft tall, it is taller than QutubMinar.
Majority of tourists to Punjab are pilgrims visiting Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board wants to promote other activities in the state like farm tourism, freedom trail that includes JaliawalaBagh etc.
Punjab is also trying to woo more pilgrims with the help of ‘Sikh circuit’ that includes several important pilgrim sites for Sikhs in the country. Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board along with Indian Railways is also planning to launch a train that will take you to major Sikh pilgrimage in the state.
Punjab Government has approved the ‘Sikh Circuit’ tourism plan of Rs. 250 crore for developing prominent Sikh religious places in the state.This project which would be undertaken on Central Financial Assistance (CFA) and PPP mode aims at developing the surroundings of prominent Sikh religious places in a holistic manner. all the three Sikh Takhts namely Sri Akal Takht, Sri Kesgarh Sahib and Dam Dama Sahib besides other gurdawaras and Sikh historic places at Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, SultanpurLodhi, Dera Baba Nanak, ChhaparChiri and others would be covered under this Sikh Circuit tourism in the state for their further development and beautification.
The Punjab government has approved a project worth Rs 15 crore to turn Kartarpur (Jalandhar district) into a tourist destination under the 12th Five Year Plan, for the state’s ongoing ‘Sikh Circuit’ tourism plans. The project is formulated to widen the integrated infrastructure for religious tourism development and improve connectivity to the identified religious circuits.
There is also scope for heritage and cultural tourism. With the 262 acres Medicity coming up in Mohali there is a huge potential for medical tourism. The state is promoting farm tourism with good accessibility, already having 22 units operational.
There are plans to develop Mohali and Amritsar as trade fair hubs with the development of convention centres and trade fair halls. An area of 2000 acres around RanjitSagar Dam is available for tourism projects. lands will be provided for hotels to be developed on the islands on the lake. this area will be develop as a luxury tourism destination in a proper planned manner .
Entertainment city being developed near Ludhiana. Spread over 4400 acres it is intended to be an entertainment hub of north India.
Of the future projects -the Mohali, Amritsar and Machhiwala are the state’s three international airports. There is a domestic airport coming up in Bhatinda, the Ludhiana and Pathankot airports are being expanded. The state has a high road density of 133 km per 100 sq km.
Punjab government is putting up a lot of efforts to bring different varities of tourism with good infrastructure in the state but what is required is a effective tourism policy and awareness about the potential and large variety of tourism product ranging from art and craft to sports tourism, religious tourism to medical tourism, Adventure tourism to Lesiure, Rural to MICE tourism thereby attracting majority of different tourist in the state.
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