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08 May 2007

Punjab to become most preferred destination in three years

If all goes well Punjab would become most preferred tourist destination in India in the next three years. This dream has been cherished by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

In the first phase, Punjab Government has decided to develop Ropar, Ludhiana and Kapurthala as 'leisure tourism' centres, thereby making optimal use of panoramic beauty on the adjoining banks of river Satluj and Beas passing through these districts.

Badal Tuesday spent most of his time in the office discussing future tourism plans with senior officers. Interestingly, his predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh had also promised to make Punjab tourist destination but his government ended selling properties of Punjab Tourism Development Corporation(PTDC). The state capital Chandigarh in the meantime has made a mark in promoting tourism as well the neighbouring Haryana which is successful model of tourism promotion.

Badal after meeting with the officials said that Punjab would be developed as the most preferred tourist destination within the next three years as the state has tremendous untapped tourist potential. He asked the Secretary Tourism to prepare a master plan to develop tourism across these river sites and also explore the possibility to develop Ranjit Sagar dam as a tourist spot.

The Chief Minister also discussed the ways and means to promote water sports of rowing, tubes & towables and boating on these sites. Badal said that the sole objective to promote tourism in the state was to contribute to the economy of the state by not only creating enough employment potential for the natives but also help the tourist to get a feel about the culture and history of Punjab and get more closer to that culture.

Badal was informed that the department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs was all set to develop pilgrimage circuit at an estimated cost of Rs.9.20 crore of which GoI share was Rs.8 crore and state's share was Rs.1.20 crore. It would cover Anandpur Sahib, Kirtapur Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Muktsar, Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal, Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala, Sri Hargobindpur, Dera Baba Nanak, Batala, Amritsar, Rauza Sharif (Fatehgarh Sahib), Devi Talab (Jalabndhar) Batal Church (19 th century) in Gurdaspur district. Likewise, Freedom Trail depicting the country's freedom struggle including Nabha, Jaito, Malerkotla, Khatkar Kalan, Feorzepur, Aliwal, Ferozeshah, Misriwala, Mudki, Sabraon and Faridkot town had been envisaged at an total outlay of Rs.9.04 crore of which Rs.7.84 and Rs.1.20 crore was GoI and state share respectively.

The Chief Minister assured the department of Tourism that there would be no constraint of funds for the promotion of tourism and said that he was in constant touch with Centre for seeking early clearance for the expansion of International Airport Amritsar to further boost the potential of tourism in the state. He appreciated the destination plans of Amritsar, Wagah, Patiala, Kapurthala and Ropar under heritage tourism being developed by the department in a phased manner. The Chief Minister also asked the department to expeditiously implement the prestigious projects of Amritsar Convention Center, Hotel Institute at Mohali and the launch of luxury train on the pattern of 'Place-on-Wheels' in Rajasthan in partnership of Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd. (IRCTC).

Talking part in the deliberations, Tourism Minister Hira Singh Gabrian said that the state tourism department has chalked out a detailed programme to promote rural tourism and identified village Chat in district Patiala, Chamkaur Sahib in district Ropar, Jayanti Majri in district Mohali and Boothgarh in district Hoshiarpur besides a multi-dimensional complex at village Andhretta (Kurali) in collaboration with Rural Development department.

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