Chandigarh, June 4 (UNI) The Punjab government and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) would jointly promote Punjab as a global destination for religio-heritage and farm tourism.
The granary of India would be put on the international tourism map through preservation and renovation of heritage and historical sites of spiritual significance by preparing an awareness-cum-facilitation package for tourists from across the globe.
A decision to this effect was taken here today at a high level meeting Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had with the UNWTO team leader Mr Richard Batchelor who had been entrusted with the task of finalising the master plan of state tourism.
The Chief Minister also agreed in principle to the proposal for engaging a professional agency to create and promote a brand image for the state on the international tourist circuit. Senior Ministers Monranjan Kalia and Hira Singh Gabria also attended the meeting.
The Chief Minister's Media Advisor Mr Harcharan Bains later told mediapersons that a 10-member UNWTO team went around the state, visiting potential sites of tourism, heritage and cultural interest. After a detailed state-wide survey spread over several months, the team submitted a preliminary report to the Chief Minister based on their observations along with recommendations on the formation of an inclusive and long-term policy to show-case Punjab as a premier tourist destination not only on the national but also on the international circuit.
A final report of the UNWTO team was likely to be submitted by early September.
Mr Batchelor briefed the Chief Minister on the latest concept of Farm Tourism which was fast catching up in countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungry which are visited by lakhs of tourists from United Kingdom and Germany every year.
Mr Badal asked the UN team to prepare a blue print for the development of Wagah- Attari border as a major tourist spot in the sub-continent. The Chief Minister also urged the UNWTO team to explore the potential around Chandigarh for leisure and village tourism.
Mr Batchelor informed the Chief Minister that tourism here was primarily based on business travel. There are also many other potential niche sectors such as golf, activity tourism, medical tourism and eco-tourism which the state could profitably encourage and develop.
Mr Batchelor pointed out at the meeting that heritage towns like Patiala, Kapurthala, Bathinda, Sultanpur Lodhi, Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Kiratpur Sahib with magnificent architectural value, rich heritage and fascinating history had 'amazing' but unexploited tourism potential.
The UNWTO team also underlined the need for new comprehensive tourism legislation aimed at providing organisational structure, registration of tourism enterprises, provision for consumer protection besides setting up of a tourism office with private sector involvement and a degree of administrative freedom to expand the role of the Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board.
Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting the state Chief Secretary R I Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister D S Guru, Principal Secretary Finance D S Kalha, Principal Secretary Tourism Geetika Kalha, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister K J S Cheema, Managing Director PIDB S S Sandhu, Director Tourism D P Reddy and National Project Coordinator UNWTO S K Sharma.
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