Uttarakhand awaits greater threat

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Bangalore, June 22: Official reports say that U'khand is not in a state to support religious, adventure and eco-tourism for the next three years. The next question that comes to our mind is 'Should the state brace itself for another impending doom?'. The incessant rains and the flash floods has wahed away a major and the most important part of the state. Some of the major pilgrimage spots like Kedarnath are under a thick layer of silt and mud; the hotels, guesthouses and the temples, which form the major attraction of the region have been erased from the face of the earth.

Destroyed

Officials of the two shrines-Kedarnath and Badrinath say " there is nothing left of the city now. Everything is gone. All that is there is mud, devastation and death". In fact, the chief executive officer of the Kedarnath-Badrinath Committee, Mr B D Singh, confirmed that the "chances of reviving the pilgrimage for the next few years" was grim. He further adds, "What we are seeing is very painful and unbelievable," he said. He further added, "What we are seeing is very painful and unbelievable. We don't expect the Char Dham Yatra to Resume in the next three years".

It goes without saying that the state is yet to encounter greater problems in the near future, as the current situation would impact the tourism sector immensely, at least till the time it gets revived.

Tourism's contribution in GDP

Although a very small state, it has reported a striking growth in the GDP of 9% in the past decade, much higher to a number of other states in India and most of it was contributed by the tourism sector. Being situated on the foothills of the Himalays and being one of the prime pilgrimage destinations of India, the state boasted of a great tourism future. The Raj-era hill-stations at Mussorie, Almora, Ranikhet and Nainital are some of the most visited destinations here. And for almost 2000 years, millions have been visiting the temples at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath and Kedarnath.

NCAER studied the economic significance of tourism in the state by compiling details from a Tourism Satellite Account for the 2002-2003 on behalf of the Central Ministry of Tourism. As per the study, this sector contributes to about 2.78 percentThe direct employment generated by the same is 4.59 percent. And if we take indirect employments generated, then the share increases to 8.27 percent.

In fact, according to the statistics provided by the Tourism Board, the estimated footfalls in Uttarakhand in 2006 was 18.99 million by domestic tourists and 0.1 million by foreign tourists. This very fact is indicative of the dimension that the tourism industry here has attained. This could further be emphasized by the statistics of projected tourist visits in Uttarakhand by the Ministry of Tourism, which is as follows:

Projected Tourist Visits
(Mn)

Year

Domestic

Foreign

2007

21.747

0.112

2008

24.900

0.130

2009

28.511

0.150

2010

32.645

0.174

2011

37.378

0.202

2012

42.238

0.227

2013

47.729

0.254

2014

53.933

0.284

2015

60.945

0.318

2016

68.867

0.356

2017

77.820

0.399

Provided below is a table on the tourist arrival trends and the growth in the same:

State/Country

2008

2009

2010

Domestic

Foreign


Domestic

Foreign

Domestic

Foreign

Uttarakhand

20546323

99910


21934567

106470

30206030

127258

All India

562982298

14112590


650038673

13717522

740214297

17852777

% Growth: Uttarakhand

-

-

6.8

6.6

37.7

19.5

% Growth: All India

-

-

15.5

-2.8

10.7

24.2

Share of Uttarakhand to India

3.6

0.7


3.4

0.8

4.1

0.7

The condition seems to be grimmer if we analyse the report of the Tourism Ministry here, which reads Rishikesh as the most visited pilgrim destinations here with a foreign footfall percent of 79.1%; this is followed by Haridwar (61.7%), Gangotri (38.3%), Uttarkashi (23.9%), Kedarnath (22.9%), Badrinath (21.4%),Auli (18.9%), Nainital(11.9%) and Gaumukh (11.0%). The reader is not unfamiliar to the condition of most of these places now.

The report further analyzes a tourist's per day expenses in the region, which accounts for RS 1119 on an average. This can give us an idea of how much the state is going to lose in the next 3 years.

Economic pundits suggest that the state now is left with its steadily growing sectors for the time being, which are agricultire, forestry, fishery, and mining. But, let us hope that the tourism economy bounces back in shape in less than 3 years as the national economy too is dependent on it.

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