Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur today at New Delhi called on Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu and raised prominently the issue of construction of International Airport in Mandi district to promote tourism in the State. The meeting was very successful as the Union Minister instructed officials of the department to send a high level team soon to Himachal Pradesh to select suitable site, keeping in mind, technical parameters required for International Air Port.The Chief Minister apprised the Union Minister that Himachal Pradesh is the Centre of tourist attraction both domestic and foreign and a major contributor to GDP of the State. He said the state is unable to exploit the full potential of tourism in the state in absence of International level Airport in the state which could have accelerated the inflow of high end tourists.The Chief Minister also informed the Union Civil Aviation Minister that the three airports in the State at Shimla, Bhunter and Gaggal could not be expanded due to unavailability of land and state of the art technology.Besides flights to these airports are also irregular due to which tourists are not able to benefit from these flights.
The Chief Minister also urged the Union Minister to take appropriate steps for extension of Shimla, Gaggle and Bhunter airports so that the network of Airports in the State could be strengthened.The Chief Minister said that last year 5226061 tourists visited Mandi and surrounding districts including 157404 foreign tourists. He said that due to opening of IIT, Medical Colleges, Engineering Colleges and others educational Institutions in Mandi district, there was an urgent need for construction of airport for better connectivity.Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said due to proximity of International Border with the State it is necessary to construct an International Airport from strategic point of view.Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu assured the Chief Minister that proper action would be taken by his Ministry to explore all possibilities of constructing International airport in the State so that the hill state could realize full potential of tourism.