The FINANCIAL — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed a $123.51 million loan for tranche 3 of the Infrastructure Development Investment Program for Tourism, to continue upgrading tourism infrastructure and services in three states.
The loan will be used for development and conservation of natural and cultural attractions, to improve basic tourism facilities and connectivity to tourist attractions, and to build the capacity of sector agencies and local communities in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab. The third tranche loan is part of the $250 million multitranche financing facility that ADB approved in 2010 that is aimed at developing tourism as a key driver for economic growth in these three states, along with Tamil Nadu, according to ADB.
“The loan will support conservation of important heritage structures, including some century-old structures, in the three states. New facilities including centers for arts and crafts, eco-parks and eco-tourism will also be developed to help the states attract more tourists”, said M. Teresa Kho, Country Director for ADB in India, who signed the loan agreement on behalf of ADB.
“Upgraded tourism infrastructure like provisioning of drinking water, drainage, street lighting, solid waste management and improvements to approach roads at selected tourist destinations will enhance the tourism environment in the three states. Involvement of local communities in the management of natural and cultural heritage sites will create employment for poor and vulnerable households,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed the loan agreement for the Government of India.
The project agreements were signed by V C Pharkha, Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism, Government of Himachal Pradesh; Navjot Randhawa, Project Director, IDIPT, Government of Punjab, and Asheesh Joshi, Additional Secretary, Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand, on behalf of the respective state governments.
To improve income opportunities for the local communities, more than 4,000 community members are set to be trained in tourism-related skills such as guiding, crafts, and recreational activities. At least 30 community-based societies will be made operational in the management of natural and cultural heritage sites.
The third tranche loan has a 20-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, commitment charges of 0.15% and an interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s LIBOR- based lending facility. The activities funded by the third tranche loan will be implemented over 4 years from 2015-2019.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.