The much-awaited Punjab Tourism Summit and Travel Mart got underway on September 11 with a lavish opening ceremony at Amity University in Mohali. The event, which will take place from September 11 to 13, marks a watershed point in Punjab's drive to become a leading worldwide tourist destination.
Punjab, the Land of Five Rivers, has immersive travel opportunities, from heritage landmarks to breathtaking scenery, excellent food, colourful bazaars, and more.
The three-day Punjab Tourism Summit began with Chief Minister S. Bhagwant Mann presenting the state as an excellent tourism destination.
Addressing the gathering, Mann said that Punjab has a lot to offer in terms of religious tourism, eco-tourism and wellness tourism, and more people should come and visit the state and enjoy the hospitality and warmth for which Punjabis are famous worldwide.
The event witnessed the presence of Tourism Minister Anmol Gagan Maan, Anurag Verma, IAS, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, IAS Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and people from the cultural sector such as stand-up comedian and TV show host Kapil Sharma and Sunil Pal, film producer Bobby Bedi, managing director of ITC Hotels Samir M. C., and vice president of Ramoji Film City A. V. Rao.
Anmol Gagan Maan, Tourism Minister, Punjab, shared insights into key thematic circuits in Punjab: Devotional (Rupnagar, Amritsar, Tarn Taran), Border Tourism (Amritsar, Ferozepur, Fazika) and Wellness (Rupnagar, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot), aligning with Punjab's serene surroundings and rich cultural heritage. She highlighted the ambitious goals to promote water and adventure tourism and emphasised Punjab's reputation for warm hospitality.
"Amritsar gets 1.5 lakh religious tourists. About 50,000 of them also cover the Wagah border. Being the land of Bhagat Singh, we also have a lot of patriotic tourism. Our goal is to move beyond the two, so we’ve been working on water and adventure tourism policies for the past year. The policy for wellness tourism is in the works. As a peace-loving land known for people who go above and beyond to share happiness, there is no better place to travel than Punjab in the current high-stress era," said Maan.
Prioritising Eco-Tourism, Wellness, And Adventure
Mann announced a new initiative called "Celebration Point" that will be set up in Amritsar.
Over 50 to 100 acres of land on the city's outskirts will be developed under this new plan, where a marriage palace, banquet hall, residential accommodation, hotel, and other facilities will be built. People will be able to get everything at one location. Any happy occasion can be celebrated there, he said, including weddings.
The state will also prioritise eco-tourism, wellness centres, adventure tourism, developing heritage circuits and farm tourism. The state intends to develop eco-tourism in Pathankot, Hoshiarpur, Rupnagar, and other locations with dams and water bodies. Mann also stated that a Film City will be established in Punjab.
During her address, Bhandari shed light on Punjab Tourism's expansion beyond religious and historical travel. As the Land of Five Rivers, Punjab is ushering in a new era with water and adventure tourism, offering thrilling activities like river rafting and paragliding. Supporting the UN’s 5th SD goal, Rangla Punjab is also structured to empower women in tourism in Punjab.
"With the Punjab Investment Business Development Policy (IBDP), we offer incentives to investors to elevate the state's reputation for business-friendly policies" she said.
A Focus On Festivals
To facilitate hassle-free investments, Punjab Tourism has established a single-window clearance system. Moreover, they have curated a festival calendar that celebrates unexplored parts of Punjab, such as Hola Mohalla in Ropar District and the iconic Rangla Punjab festival, a 14-day celebration of food, colour, and culture held one day after Lohri.
Among other sites, Amritsar will have a multi-theme "Dil Punjabi" festival in January 2023-24, while Bathinda will host the Baisakhi Mela in April. Faridkot will host the "Baba Sheikh Farid Aagman" festival in September, Fatehgarh will host the Sahib Valour festival in December, and Ferozepur will host the Basant celebration in January.
An environment festival will be held in Hoshiarpur in February, and an equestrian event will be held in Jalandhar in November. The Kapurthala Heritage Festival will be held in January to celebrate the magnificence of the former Kapurthala Princely State.
A Memorial For Soldiers
Mann stated that every village in Punjab bears the stamp of martyrs who gave their lives for the country's cause both before and after independence, which must be honoured. And that his government will complete work on the Saragarhi Memorial to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by the 21 heroic soldiers who died while defending the country's sovereignty at the famous battle of Saragarhi.
The inaugural event concluded with Mann expressing his vision for the future. "Punjab is the land of the heart, and that's what we want to show through Rangla Punjab. We possess all the elements needed to take tourism to uncharted heights, like being in a geographical sweet spot where tourists must cross Punjab to reach many destinations. No wedding is complete without Punjabi food and songs," he said, underlining Punjab's potential as a prime tourist destination.