Shimla, India – Himachal Pradesh registered an over 16 percent rise in the number of tourists visiting the state during 2010 as compared to the year before, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said here Tuesday.
‘A new record has been set last year with 16.38 percent increase in number of domestic and foreign tourists across the state,’ Dhumal, who also holds the tourism portfolio, said while reviewing a meeting of the tourism department.
He said last year 13,298,748 tourists visited the state as compared to 11,437,135 in 2009.
The number of foreign tourists increased from 400,583 in 2009 to 454,851 in 2010, registering an increase of 54,268 or over 13 percent in a year, he added.
To attract high-end tourists and promote remote destinations, the state government has signed an agreement with three operators of helicopter taxis and identified routes and fixed air fares.
‘Soon the heli-taxis would start operating across the state and this would boost the tourism industry,’ Dhumal said.
The fares for heli-taxis, ranging from Rs.2,000 to Rs.13,000, have already been finalised by the tourism department for 28 routes.
In October last year, the state got a loan of Rs.454 crore (about $100 million) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for improving infrastructure around natural and cultural heritage sites across the state.
Tourism is an important contributor to Himachal Pradesh’s economic development, besides horticulture and hydropower generation.
Kullu-Manali has emerged as the most popular tourist destination, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.