UNWTO and State of Punjab (India) Further Strengthen Technical Cooperation
UNWTO and the State Government of Punjab in India have decided to further strengthen their technical cooperation through the provision of further technical assistance to the State for the development and promotion of the tourism sector. The ongoing collaboration between UNWTO and the State Government has been further extended till the end of 2012. An agreement to this effect was signed on 26 September 2011.
In 2008, UNWTO formulated a Tourism Development Master Plan for the State for the period encompassing 2008-2023. The Master Plan recognized the potential of Punjab to become a competitive tourism destination based on its rich cultural, religious and natural heritage. The Master Plan provided suitable recommendations on improved tourism organization and governance including tourism statistics and market research; development of a promotional brand, development of tourism circuits and a sound, effective and targeted marketing strategy; greater access and infrastructure particularly with regard to air and road transportation; enhanced environmental conservation; tourism training and skills upgrading to provide quality tourism services; more diverse product development in terms of type and range of accommodation, development of heritage attractions and other forms of specialized tourism such as farm tourism, golf, and medical tourism; and, improved planning legislation so as to integrate tourism fully into the urban planning system and more attractive investment incentives. In addition, the Master Plan identified four demonstration pilot areas and prepared development plans for them. The Master Plan included a detailed Action plan identifying activities to be undertaken, in order of priority, as well as determination of the lead Government agencies responsible for their execution. The Master Plan also provided recommendations for an Implementation Strategy which included the creation of an Implementation Committee which would oversee the overall implementation of the Master Plan as well as other related Advisory Committees which would be responsible for executing specific activities.
In 2009, the State Government embarked upon the implementation of the Master Plan recommendations and continued to avail of (UNWTO) technical assistance particularly in the disciplines of tourism organization and capacity building, marketing and promotion, planning and development of pilot project demonstration sites, development of a system of tourism statistics and tourism awareness raising.
As a result of technical assistance from UNWTO, the following major objectives were achieved: final draft proposal for establishment of tourism authority and expanded PHTPB have been prepared; tourism statistics and research cell has been established and qualified personnel deployed; capacity building of stakeholders particularly tourism service providers like tourist guide, nature guide & hospitality sector has been initiated; and, detailed terms of reference for demonstration projects finalized.
Building on the significant progress achieved, momentum gained and interest raised amongst all stakeholders, both public and private, it has been decided to embark on a new phase of the implementation of the Master Plan focusing more on the development of rural tourism while continuing to avail of UNWTO technical expert in the field of tourism awareness, capacity building, marketing and promotion as well as in the further development of a scientific system of tourism statistics and research.
It is expected that through this extended phase of the project, the State Government of Punjab will create better awareness of the tourism sector, acquire skilled capacities for planning, development and marketing of specific niche products such as rural tourism, and create opportunities for rural development and improved livelihoods for local communities. At the same time, the State Government will develop a sound system of tourism statistics which will provide valuable data and information for planning, development and marketing and promotion.