Uttarakhand is known as the abode of the gods. The state's greatest asset is that there is a temple dedicated to each of the 33 millions gods and goddesses. The Char Dhams- Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are also located here Ganga considered to be the holiest river, is in Uttarakhand and every Hindu's life has an association with river Ganga in one way or the other. The state also has the famous Hemkunt Sahib for the Sikhs and the religious place for the Muslims in Piran Kalier(Roorkee).
The state's other great assets are the Himalayan mountains. Visitors and pilgrims coming to Uttarakhand are bound to be fascinated by the sight of steep mountains just staring at them. The state has a large number of mountain peaks that can be climbed, apart from a wealth of lakes that are still inaccessible to tourists.
Sixty five percent of the state remains under forest cover. The variety of flora and fauna is also immense. We also have national parks of which the Corbett National Park is known all over the world. For adventure sports enthusiasts, there are facilities for aero sports, water sports, trekking, angling and rock climbing. Also, Uttarakhand is the revered land of the saints and sages. Rishikesh, for instance, is the centre for yoga and meditation. So this unique wealth makes Uttarakhand special. In the coming years, rural tourism, yoga and meditation, adventure toursim, etc., would attract more people to Uttarakhand.
A concerted effort has been made to project the tourism might of the state. In terms of re-positioning, a conscious effort is being made to attract tourists to Uttarakhand with money power. Already the state has a good reputation for being a leading destination for religious and adventure tourism. Now the thrust is on promoting the state as an ideal destination for eco-tourism, centre for yoga and meditation.
In the last couple of years, a good number of tourism circuits have been identified and development work on them has begun. The chief amongst them are: Pauri - Khirsu - Lansdowne; Joshimath - Auli - Badrinath; Pithoragarh - Munsyari; and Raithal - Barsu - Dayara Bugyal.
In the past few years various infrastructure related development initialtives have been put in place such as development of 44 Tourist Convenience Centres(TCC) and Tourist Information Centres(TIC); development of national level Institute of Hotel and Catering Management in Dehradun; development of ghats under Great Green Vista Project in Haridwar; Plastic Densifiction Plant for the disposal of garbage which is important in an ecologically sensitive state like ours. Mobile help vans on the CHAR DHAM route for tourists during yatra period have been pressed into service. Various feasibility studies have been conducted such as ropeway between Rishikesh - Neelkanth and Rambara - Kedarnath and setting up of Mountain Airlines. These would give further boost to the sector.
Training programme for the service providers such as - taxi/bus drivers, conductors, dhaba owners, porters, staff of various private sectors, small and medium size hotels and lodges, is being given due attention. Work for the upgradation of five air strips in the state is being given top priority. Dehradun airport has already been well-operational. It would be further upgraded to enable it to have bigger airplane landing facilities. Air strips in Pantnagar, Gaucher, Naini-Saini and Chinyalisaur too are being readied gradually. Feasibility study is underway for Mountain Airlines providing fixed wing aircraft services within various Indian Himalayan states.