Chandigarh, Jan 16:Union Minister of State For Tourism Prahlad Patel said here today that 2021 would be observed as a "dekhobharat" year under which various initiatives would be taken to develop tourist spots that would expose people to the rich cultural heritage of the country.

In his virtual presidential address for the second edition of the India Tourism Conclave, 2021, organised by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and SwadeshiJagranManch in association with Ministry of Tourism and culture, the union minister said India has a repository of thousands years old rich culture and the "dekhobharat" campaign this year would focus on inviting people within the country to explore the rich heritage.

He said almost 2.20 crore tourists go out of the country every year to see almost all that which is available in our country. "We have caves, ocean, sanctuaries and all that, but we need to develop a new vision for indigenous tourism," he said.

Patel said even though Covid lockdown has dealt a cruel blow to the tourism industry but it was happy to note that reservations in tourist places has started picking up.

He said there have been persistent efforts by the Modi government to promote tourism as an industry which saw India rising from 65th place in 2014 to 34th place in 2019 in terms of growth .

In his valedictory address, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said that Himachal government had been making efforts to develop special tourist places to wean away tourists from popular places like Manali, Shimla, Kasauli etc.

He said the state government had launched a new scheme "nayeeraahein, nayeemanzilien, to woo the tourists in the post-Covid period.