JAMMU: The Minister of State for Tourism, Priya Sethi Thursday laying stress on employing sustainable, eco- tourism initiatives in the state, said that development and improvement in infrastructure is priority of the government but it should not be at the cost of destroying or disturbing the ecological balance.
The Minister was speaking while inaugurating a two day Capacity Building Workshop on ‘Promoting Destination Sustainability through Eco-Tourism Initiatives’ organized by the Department of Tourism, here today.
The work shop was organized with the objective to sensitize the policy makers and tourism stakeholders towards the importance of sustainability tourism for destination development and identify areas of eco tourism initiative that can be undertaken across the various regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
Priya Sethi said that travel is evolving rapidly all over the world and there is a visible shift from mass tourism to niche tourism adding that state’s tourism industry needs to rise to this level and evolve into a ‘niche destination’. She said that the state tourism and various development authorities need to focus on evolving and promoting niche tourism and destinations with focus on orchard tourism, mice tourism and wedding destination tourism among others.
The Minister said that there is a need for adopting a policy of responsible tourism without compromising the environment and ecology which is the core issue that drives tourism industry in the State adding that eco-tourism is a significant contributor to resource conversation and environmental protection.
The Minster said that capacity building is a continuous process and urged the participants to take maximum out of this knowledge source so that government and all state tourism agencies can work in unison to produce a haven for national and international tourists.
“We have the natural beauty that offers great tourism potential and the department has continued to work on improving our product and facilities. We now are also aiming to further strengthen our human resource and skills base by multiple training initiatives as education and training are critical in order to improve service standards that would result in the delivery of exceptional experiences”, the Minister added.
Further, the Minster also asked the participants, experts and the department to include topics regarding tourist safety, tourism ethics, use of social media in spreading the positive message to the target groups besides laying special focus on employing the philosophy of Biomimetic architecture that seeks solutions for sustainability in nature, not by replicating the natural forms, but by understanding the rules governing those forms adding that this will provide the gateway for sustainable and responsible tourism.
Besides, the Minster also urged all participants, especially the CEOs of various development authorities to prepare an outline of their development plan which will act as their roadmap, and identifying individual USPs for all their destinations with their target groups.
Secretary Tourism Farooq Ahmed Shah, Joint Director Tourism, Joint Director Planning, Secretary Sidhra Golf Course, CEOs of all tourism development authorities besides various officers from tourism department were present on the occasion.