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The Union Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) Dr. Mahesh Sharma held consultations with the Members of Parliament (MPs) from J&K, HP and Uttarakhand in New Delhi today to discuss modalities for developing the Himalayan Circuit. The Himalayan Circuit has been identified under the new Swadesh Darshan Scheme of the Union Ministry of Tourism for promoting tourism.Among those who participated in the meeting include Shri Anurag Singh Thakur (MP, Hamirpur), Shri Virender Kashyap (MP, Shimla), Ms. Mehbooba Mufti (MP, Anantnag), Shri Thupstan Chhewang (MP, Ladakh), Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (MP, Hardwar), Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari (MP, Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar), Smt. Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah (MP, Tehri Garhwal) among others.

Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that 73 percent of the Himalayas lie within Indian territory and India can utilize this unique advantage to boost the growth of tourism in the Himalayan Circuit. He said that tourism contributes foreign exchange in a big way to the exchequer of India and it contributes 6.8 percent of the GDP share in India.He said that Rs 120 crore have been allocated for the development of the Himalayan circuit and the amount can be effectively utilized for drawing up a road map which will be decided after consultations with the MPs concerned. The Members of Parliament have an in depth knowledge of the requirements of their areas from the viewpoint of promoting tourism and they can help the Ministry of Tourism to identify and explore new areas where tourism can be given a boost, he added. The Minister said that our target is to enhance the India’s share in global tourism to 1 percent from the current level of about 0.64 percent.

The MPs from Uttarakhand requested for a mono-rail to Haridwar./Rishikesh to meet the growing menace of traffic to these areas. They also desired for developing more airports like Uttarkashi .Ms. Mehbooba Mufti said the state of Jammu & Kashmir wants to turn around its economy and tourism appears to be the best way of doing it. Boosting Tourism will help to generate income and employment for the local people and also help in diversification. Ms Mufti highlighted the need for starting additional flights from Srinagar Airport to facilitate more inflow of tourists as well as connecting Jammu with more direct trains. Business tourism will get a big boost if Convention Halls are set up in Gulmarg and Patnitop, she explained.