The Himachal Pradesh government today signed a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank for strengthening tourism infrastructure in the state.
The agreement was signed by the state’s Tourism principal secretary Manisha Nanda and ADB’s India Resident Mission officer in-charge Prodyut Dutt under ‘Infrastructure Development Investment Program’ for tourism.
Under the agreement, ADB will provide USD 95.16 million to the state for developing tourism infrastructure and the first phase of the project will be completed by June 30, 2017. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by June 20, 2020, Nanda said.
He said the HP government has notified a State-Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) headed by the chief secretary to provide advice and guidance, including policy directions, and accord all project approvals.
Mission Director Arun Sharma said tourism in Himachal at present contributed around eight per cent of the state’s total GDP and by end of the project period it is likely to be doubled.
The USP of the project is the integrated approach towards tourism development. The schemes under the infrastructure development were conceived by involving the stake holders and the execution will also be overseen by the communities, officials said.
Sharma said Himachal received around 13 million tourists last year and the growth is projected at around 20 per cent per annum. A majority of these tourists visit various religious places in the state and facilities and activities at these destinations are being enhanced.
“The improved tourism infrastructure…is likely to catapult Himachal as the number one tourist destination in the country in the coming years,” he said.
Officials said the vast untapped tourism potential of the state is the launching pad for employment and livelihood to about 15 per cent of the total population.
The loan will also be used for developing infrastructure at Pong Dam, which will give a fillip to water sports, birds watching activities and conservative efforts, they said.
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