Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while virtually addressing the concluding function of Snow Festival of Lahaul-Spiti district from Shimla today said that this 75-day long festival would go a long way in promoting the rich diverse culture and traditions of this tribal district of the State and also act as a catalyst for promoting tourism activities in the district. He said that the Atal Tunnel has opened new vistas of development as it has ensured round the year connectivity. He said that this tunnel has also given a big boost to the tourism development as it has opened the virgin and beautiful valley to the world tourists. He said that this would not only provide ample employment and self-employment opportunities to the local, but would transform the economy of the people of this district.Jai Ram Thakur said that the Atal Tunnel and Tourism were gradually becoming synonymous as over 5000 tourist vehicles were daily crossing this Tunnel towards Lahaul valley. He said that steps need to be taken to provide best infrastructure to the tourists so that they could stay in the valley comfortably. He said that this festival has helped the reviving the traditions almost at verge of extinction, besides showcasing the diverse culture to the rest of the world. He said that this would motivate the tourists world over to visit the valley to have a glimpse of the tribal culture and costumes. He said that before the tunnel was dedicated to the nation, there were only about 71 Home Stay and today there were over 450 home stays catering to the needs of the tourists. Chief Minister said that efforts must be made to diversify the Snow Festival so that it has something special and new to showcase before the rest of the world. He said that he would personally apprise the Prime Minister about this event held after the Atal Tunnel was dedicated to the nation. The State Government would soon submit a concrete proposal before the Union Minister of Tourism for effective marketing of the Lahaul Spiti district as a tourist destination and steps would also be taken to ensure GI tagging of this event, he added.Jai Ram Thakur said that steps would also be taken to promote cultivation of Sea buckthorn in the valley. He said that this would not only give boost to the economy of the farmers, but also promote economic activities in the area.
Tribal Development, Technical Education and Information Technology Minister Dr Ram Lal Markanda thanked the Chief Minister for envisaging keen interest in development of Lahaul-Spiti district. He said that the Chief Minister has visited the district several times during the last three years. He said that the whole event would be documented and expressed hope that the event would help in reviving the rich cultural and tradition of this tribal district. He said that this Festival has ensured effective participation of people and it was organized by contribution from people of the area. He said that the people running Home Stays would be provided effective training so that they could provide better services to the tourists. He thanked the Chief Minister for reviving the post of AC to DC for this tribal district of the State. He said that 18 towers of Jio and three of Airtel has ensured better connectivity to this land locked area. He thanked the Chief Minister for making adequate budget provision for development of the tribal areas of the State.Deputy Commissioner Lahaul and Spiti Pankaj Rai while welcoming the Chief Minister said that this festival has won a distinction of being one of the longest festivals of the world being celebrated for 75 days. He said that this festival would go a long way in exchanging of culture between the different valleys of this tribal district. He also made a presentation regarding various events held during this festival. He said that ethnic food festival was also held to attract and ensure involvement of tourists in this festival. He said that workshops were also held on home stay and handicraft. He said that community participation was ensured to organize and celebrate this festival in a befitting manner. He said that this would give boost to tourism, winter games and allied sports, besides exploring potential of ice climbing, ice hockey and skying and snow craft. Member TAC Pushpa Sharma said that this Snow Festival would give an added boost to the tourism development in the Lahaul-Spiti area. She said that this festival has also provided an apt platform for the local talent to exhibit their talent.Pradhan Gram Panchayat Sissu Suman Thakur, Mahila Mandal President Keylong Chhering Dolma and former Vice Chairman Zila Parishad Rigzin Hyrappa welcomed the Chief Minister and other dignitaries. Principal Secretary Tribal Development Onkar Sharma and Advisor to the Chief Minister Dr R.N. Batta were present with the Chief Minister at Shimla where as several district officers attended the function at Keylong.