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Consultation on People's Vision for Tourism in Himachal Pradesh
March 10, 2012 to March 14, 2012

Consultation on People's Vision for Tourism in Himachal Pradesh

Organised by Him Niti Abhiyan and EQUATIONS

10th & 11th March 2012,Baijnath
13th & 14th March 2012,Chamba

The growth of tourism as perceived in today's context in Himachal Pradesh's can be traced to the eighties. However, tourism has existed long before with many pilgrims visiting sacred spots, the popularity of Shimla as a hill station and the early adventurers to the Himalayas. Many factors have also contributed to the growing number of tourist arrivals to the state - improved accessibility, growing interest in different types of tourism, the international popularity of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as the political instability in Kashmir among others. Tourist arrivals have soared from 16,01,500 domestic and 51,360 foreign tourists in 1996 to 1,28,11,986 and 4,53,616 respectively in 2010 which is almost double the state population however tourism's contribution is to the GSDP is only 7%.

At the same time the impacts of excessive and unregulated tourism is being witnessed across almost every destination in Himachal Pradesh in varying degrees – with unending traffic jams, spiralling prices, increased pressure and diversion of water and electricity resources and fuel wood, pollution, poor waste management and litter; social costs of the abuse of women and children, drugs, of displacement of people, etc.

The latest tourism policy came out in 2005. The focus was on attracting the quality tourist, promoting sustainable tourism and encouraging the private sector investment – without disturbing the existing ecology and environment. Thrust areas such as rural, ecotourism, wildlife, lakes and wetlands, pilgrimage, adventure & promoting unexplored himachal were identified.

However little seems to have been achieved in the realm of sustainable tourism. On the contrary there have been land scams linked to ecotourism projects that are run by the Forest Department. Inspite of the land issue coming to light the government continues to pump in money on ecotourism, while officials within the forest department & corporation acknowledge the non contribution of tourism to any conservation effort. Local communities have been opposing mega tourism projects that such as the Himalayan Ski Village which would have lead to a loss of livelihoods for hundreds of families and been destructive for the ecology of the region – however the government has given permission to ski down grassy slopes in Solang. There have also been similar opposition by the oustees who have not been taken into confidence during the planning stage of the Pong dam tourism project that is being funded by the Asian Development Bank.

In the state ADB's focus is on funding hydropower, infrastructure and tourism projects. All three linked and rely to one another. Dams are a manifestation of a kind of development, which denies some people the access to justice (largely in rural and poor parts of cities), while favouring the growth of others (largely the urban middle class and elite). Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that after people are displaced, tourism is developed on the watery graves of people’s homes and their lands. The role of IFIs and even NFIs need to be scrutinised.

Himachal Pradesh government is in the process of preparing a 20-year master plan for tourism. Can we find answers to some of these questions so as to influence the way tourism is planned and developed in Himachal Pradesh?

  1. Has tourism generated quality and secure employment for local communities?
  2. To what extent does tourism contribute to local community development?
  3. How can tourism be non-exploitative?
  4. How can tourism be more inclusive, participatory, transparent?
  5. Where does the accountability in tourism lie?
  6. What is the kind of tourism that we want? 
  7. What should be the principles on which tourism is developed?
  8. What is the role and responsibility of each stakeholder?
  9. What is our vision for tourism in the Himachal Pradesh?
This Consultation is being organized by Him Niti Abhiyan and EQUATIONS with an aim to:
  • Sharing of experiences - aspirations, realities, challenges of tourism development – from the region
  • To work towards building a People's vision for tourism in Himachal Pradesh
  • To evolve strategies for policy & advocacy work at the state level

2 day consultation

Day 1: Sharing of ground realities and experiences: will include presentations by participants on current realities and describe alternative models for tourism
Day 2: People's vision for tourism and evolving strategies for policy & advocacy work at the state level

Participants: People from the local community, People involved in tourism, Movements, Panchayats / Municipalities, Tourism and Forest officials, Media and CSOs

For further information, contact us:

1. Guman Singh, Him Niti Abhiyan: 09418277220
2. Aditi Chanchani, EQUATIONS: 09008355933

Keywords: People’s Vision, Tourism, Sustainable, Himachal Pradesh, EQUATIONS, Him Niti Abhiyan, Manali, Banjar