New Delhi: Located in the foothills of Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh abound with natural beauty on Wednesday received national tourism award from President Pratibha Patil.

The award was presented to the hill state at a function held in Vigyan Bhawan here in the presence of Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

Arun Sharma, Director Tourism of Himachal Pradesh, who received the award along with Principal Secretary Tourism Manisha Nanda, said that the state has been honoured the top prize for excellent tourism publicity material.

Tourism is the mainstay of HP contributing 10 percent of its GDP. Over 1.5 crore tourists, both foreigners as well from within the country, had arrived in the state in 2011, double the population of the state which is around 80 lakh, he said.

He said under the guidance of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, the state government has taken several steps to boost tourism potential of the state.

Tourism department has brought out a coffee table "Har ghar kuchh kehta," a book narrating the historical anecdotes associated with the summer capital of the British empire, Sharma, who himself had authored the book, said.

HP is the first state in the country to launch an electronic brochure, he added.

The official said that the tourism infrastructure in the state is being also developed through social employment scheme MNREGA to create various basic facilities to the tourists.

In addition to capital Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala and Chamba-Dalhousie are thronged by a large number of tourists throughout the year.

(Agencies)