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Date: 21 February 2021

Uttarakhand takes the ‘adventure route’ to revive tourism post COVID

Uttarakhand News
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In order to cope with a lull in the tourism sector with drying up of international tourist arrivals and lean domestic tourist numbers, Uttarakhand, which draws a large chunk of its revenue from the hospitality industry, is now banking on ‘adventure’ to bring things on track.

Uttarakhand tourism minister Satpal Maharaj, who is in favour of exploring every possible way of adventure activities in the state, pointed out that adventure tourism has a major contribution in the overall tourism industry of the state. “We are confident that looking for more and more adventure activities will benefit the state tourism industry. This particular section of the tourism industry is attracting every age group these days and as we already have holistic and spiritual tourism options available in ample, our focus is to look out for maximum potential in adventure tourism,” added Maharaj.

Vinayak Kaul, secretary, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), while talking to TOI maintained that the steps taken by Uttarakhand for the revival of tourism are remarkable. “If we go by the figures presented by the government, 60,000 people have participated in river rafting in the last few months in Uttarakhand. This is a remarkable number given the cold conditions. On the other hand, we are hardly getting to hear any new activity being planned in other Himalayan states — popular for adventure tourism — to attract tourists,” added Kaul.

While other Himalayan regions like J&K and Himachal Pradesh — also known for adventure sports activities — are still in the process of opening up tourism in a full-fledged way, Uttarakhand has already organised three national-level adventure sports festivals (in Pauri, Almora and Nainital) post the lockdown since September and is all set to host a national skiing championship in Auli next month. Also, in past four months, almost 60,000 people have done river rafting in the state (in Rishikesh) while over 6,200 taken part in paragliding at various spots near Bhimtal, Bageshwar, and Kotbagh, which experts say is a sizeable number, since November-January is considered ‘off-season’.

In a bid to revive the adventure tourism activities, the state government has also set up a separate wing in Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB). The ‘adventure’ wing of the UTDB is being led by Retired Colonel Ashwin Pundir, who holds the post of Addition Chief Executive Officer (ACEO), Adventure Sports. Meanwhile, retired group captain RK Singh has joined the wing as Air Sports Specialist. Also, Anuj Singh and Ranveer Singh Negi have been appointed as water sports specialist and land sports specialist respectively.

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