Himachal Pradesh best tourist destination: Dhumal

Dharamsala: Describing Himachal Pradesh as the best tourist destination in the country, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said the state has emerged as a safe and attractive spot for visitors with a record 4.53 lakh foreign tourists visiting the state last year.

Referring to three more CNBC Awards received by the state for tourism promotion, Dhumal noted that the state has fast emerged as a popular tourist destination with the number of visitors standing at over 1.32 crore in 2010, including a record number of 4.53 lakh foreign visitors, against state`s total population of 68.5 lakh.

Speaking at a function in Hamirpur district on Wednesday, Dhumal said Shimla had won the Best Destination Award for the third time consecutively and the state has also won the Eco-Tourism Award. Lauding efforts of everyone involved in promotion of tourism in the state, Dhumal said with a complete ban on polythene carry bags, the state has emerged a neat and clean destination in the country.

Appealing people to respect the religious sentiments of the people and extend best of the courtesy to the faith they follow, Dhumal underlined the need to develop inherent quality amongst the young citizens to learn traditional ways of hospitality which could add to the tourism promotion activities in coming years.

He said that with presence of many prominent seats of deities in the state, religious tourism was on the increase with every passing year and the state government was also creating best of the infrastructure of basic amenities to facilitate visits of devotees.

He said that the government was giving added emphasis to extend tourism activities to the rural areas where "Home Stay" scheme had been launched to acquaint visitors with the culture, tradition and life style of the state. Home Stay Units were free from any commercial charges, he further added.