Expressing concern over the lack of adequate basic facilities to cater to the growing number of tourists in Leh town of Ladakh, Sonam Wangchuk -- popularly known as Phunsuk Wangdu from the movie '3 idiots' -- met Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel in Leh.
The Minister was on a four-day trip to Ladakh to initiate a dialogue with the stakeholders of the tourism industry.
Wangchuk, during the meeting on Friday, suggested that the Tourism ministry promote the adjoining areas of Leh like Kargil. He also put emphasis on the need to promote 'homestays' instead of hotels for tourists as this has led to over-commercialisation which may affect the natural beauty of the region in the long run, whether in terms of culture or landscape.
"We have noticed that Leh gets crowded by tourists, but the real culture exists in the neighbouring villages which have not been explored and have got neglected," Wangchuk told the minister.
"There are hundreds of villages near Leh, where the locals still live in mud houses and welcome tourists to stay in their houses. This must be promoted internationally," Wangchuk added.
During the four-day trip, many locals raised similar concerns as they fear that commercialisation of tourism has been taking a toll on the culture of Ladakh.
"Tourists visit only Leh where hotels and cafes have flourished. But, this is affecting the lifestyle and culture of living in the old houses in Leh," a local said.
However, Wangchuk appreciated the steps initiated by the Central government to promote the 'B and B' (Bed and Breakfast) scheme.
"We want to make sure that tourists are motivated to live in the residences of locals and observe the local culture and eat the local cuisines. We also plan to sponsor locals to visit roadshows and international tourism fair to tell the world about Ladakhi culture," Patel told Wangchuk.
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