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Ladakh: Wellness tourism, new trekking routes and more in new draft Tourism policy

Last Updated on February 11, 2022 at 8:54 pm

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has come out with a draft vision document on tourism in the cold region of Ladakh. The local administration has invited suggestions and objections from people till February 15.

“Our vision is to promote Ladakh as a high-value, low-impact tourism destination that fosters sustainable and inclusive growth for the local community. The vision captures the expectations of the stakeholders of the tourism industry as well as the local population, considering their economic and social needs. By integrating best practices to improve convenience and experience, the goal is to create tourist experiences in Ladakh that are comparable to the best places of the world. Suggestions in the document assure little to no negative effects of tourism on the local ecology and population through regulated and monitored tourism. Through the promotion of tourism in Ladakh, we aim to create employment for the locals and promote Ladakh’s culture and products to tourists from India and the rest of the world” the vision document says.

The principle of ‘High-value, Low-impact’ will promote sustainable tourism in Ladakh by marketing it as a ‘unique and exclusive experience’ to boost tourism while simultaneously curbing adverse ecological and social impacts on the region. This core value seeks to ensure a meaningful experience for travelers and educating them about Ladakhi culture and values at the same time.

Overcrowded tourist hotspots like Leh city and Diskit create an adverse impact on the ecological, social, and cultural balance of the region. Our objective is to disburse the large inflow of tourists from these overrun zones to other untraveled and unexplored areas that have a bountiful to offer, thus creating an equitable and sustainable balance.

With increasing environmental consciousness, tourists must aim at minimizing the carbon footprint from their travel. With an emphasis on ecolodges, recycling and waste management, greener transport, and construction, Ladakh can be promoted as a responsible and environment-friendly tourist destination. Screening activities like motorized vehicle tours that generate heavy pollution and enhancing low-carbon emitting activities will be the key to ensuring sustainable tourism.

Promoting, restoring, and conserving the region’s natural landscapes and heritage is being implemented in full force post the global pandemic. Ladakh administration resumed tourist activities post-global pandemic with its ‘Zanskar Youth Festival 2021’. During the 13-day festival, visitors were given a serene and isolated environment to practice yoga in, along with trekking over the frozen Zanskar river and experiencing local cuisine, culture and festivals. Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture inaugurated the National Tourism Day 2021 at Ice Hockey Rink Biamathang in Kargil district of Ladakh.

The Ministry of Tourism, under its Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes, also provides Rs 595 crore financial assistance to state governments and union territories for the development of tourism infrastructure. Ministry of Tourism launched the ‘DekhoApnaDesh’ webinar series in April 2020, which provides information on the country’s rich culture and heritage and shared the depth and expanse of the destinations in India. As part of the ongoing series, the Ministry of Tourism conducted its 5th webinar on the rich heritage of Ladakh titled ‘Ladakh: Explore the Unexplored’.

During the past decade wellness tourism has been identified as one of the fastest growing travel segments, but also the most lucrative. Ladakh, due to its unique landscape and environment is very well placed to utilize its existing resources to set up wellness tourism units throughout the region. As we have seen the success of Ayurveda retreats in Kerala, which is big among Russian tourists, but the Germans, Belgians, French, and Americans haven’t taken to it. They prefer spa and yoga retreats. Ladakh offers the ideal pristine setup for wellness centers, yoga retreats, and spas.