Pithoragarh : 6 December, 2015
Winter tourism is being promoted in Uttarakhand to take tourist activities beyond the spots established by the British over 150 years ago when they felt the need of cool places for their families and VIPs. Since the state came into existence in 2000, winter tourism has also been associated with places other than popular tourist places such as Nainital, Mussoorie and Kausani. “We have a clear policy of winter tourism. We take tourists who come to Uttarakhand to view Himalayan peaks or bask in the sun and escape the foggy conditions in the plains,” says Dinesh Gururani, adventure tourism officer, Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN).
He says winter tourism not only gives an opportunity to residents of villages situated along a particular mountain track to earn money by providing home stay facilities to tourists but also provides a market for local goods and vegetables. “When all tribal families come down from their high Himalayan villages to lower valleys, it is winter tourists who can purchase their craft goods. The tribal families mostly reside along track routes which tourists travel on during the winter,” says Lila Bangal, a tribal craftswoman at the Jauljibi market who also runs a cooperative federation to promote tribal craft.
Gururani says that it is winter tourism that can give a new shape to tourism market as different from traditional tourism. “Villagers living along the track to the Chadika temple in Pithoragarh, the old Sherring Road in Champawat and the Binsar track in Almora can benefit from winter tourism as tourists can purchase local vegetables and craft. As these tracks require more than a day to trek from the base camps, tourists need food material that they can buy from villagers,” he says.
Officers at the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Corporation (UTDC) at Dehradun say the government is promoting winter tourism as it wants every region to be covered under the tourist circuit. “To run tourist activities throughout the year, we are promoting trekking, river rafting, kayaking, hand gliding and mountaineering, besides recently introduced cycling as part of winter tourism. New tourist destinations are being developed in all parts of the state so that jobs for local villagers and youths could be generated throughout the year,” says an officer at the UTDC.
Munsiyari in Pithoragarh district and Kapkot in Bageshwar district have shown the way for winter tourism as tourists who trek to Milam and the Khuliya Top provide much-needed source of livelihood to residents of Lilam, Dhapa, Balanti, and Bhujani villages and those living along the Milam route. Otherwise, these villagers will be without a job for over six months. “As the number of trekkers has grown during the winter, we hope to stay in our high altitude villages to earn our livelihood amid chilling cold and heavy snowfall. Otherwise, there is no hope of employment in this part of Himalayas during the winter,” says Balwant Singh Khati, a restaurant owner at the Khati camp on the Pindari track route in Bageshwar district. The Tribune