SRINAGAR: State is organising a Tourism Conference later this month in Patnitop to showcase Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh regions as “one entity” to the aspiring tourists.
In a high-level meeting held in Jammu on Friday, Chief Minister (CM) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed asked the Tourism Department to hold “pre-conference discussions” with all the stakeholders so that the meet “becomes fruitful and result-oriented”.
Pitching for the “collaborated effort” by tourism players of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to showcase J&K as “one package”, Sayeed said he would “soon” call the meeting of the Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), which he heads, for shaping “the roadmap for a comprehensive tourism policy that drives performance-based investment in all sub-sectors.”
“Tourism is all about selling a good package by having the right linkages at the right places,” he said, emphasizing on “intertwining tourism stakeholders with those in food and handicrafts industry”.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Minister for Finance Haseeb Drabu, and Minister for Social Welfare and Forest, Environment and Ecology Bali Baghat, Commissioner/Secretary Tourism Shailendra Kumar, Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday, Managing Director Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation Farooq Ahmad Shah, and Director Tourism Jammu R K Verma were present in the meeting.
The CM issued immediate orders to the Tourism Department to prepare an “all-inclusive smart package that focuses on increasing the occupancy levels and increasing footfall of nature tourists in the region (Jammu)”.
Sayeed, who holds the charge of Tourism portfolio, has given two weeks to the Department for preparing the blueprint in consultation with the private tour and travel operators.
He underlined “the urgent requirement” to explore Jammu’s “ideal and known” locations like Sanasar, Bhaderwah, Patnitop, Sudhmahadev, and Batote in the first phase.
Sayeed asked the Commissioner/Secretary to prepare a detailed project report for “central funding of the offbeat destinations” in the region, while he directed the authorities to expedite the construction of Patnitop Ropeway.
He instructed the authorities to explore the possibility of organizing water sports around the Baghlihar Dam, “so that high-end adventure tourists are attracted to visit the area”.
Tourism Department has been instructed to put in place a “regulatory mechanism with proper checks and balances” to ensure “synergy between the government and private stakeholders in the tourism industry”.
Sayeed asserted that his government would “soon” take “several steps” to absorb as many tourists as possible.
“I have already expressed my desire to take back idle properties at known health resorts at Gulmarg and Srinagar and properly utilize unused infrastructure, so that our intake capacity increases. These, however, remain interim measures,” he said.
“In long-term,” he continued, “we need to draw a map to develop high-end tourism infrastructure so that we cater to the requirements of overseas and domestic visitors.”
He directed the Minister for Finance to take up the issue related to Centaur Lake View Hotel with the New Delhi’s Ministry of Finance.
He also directed Director Tourism, Kashmir, to immediately start “light-and-sound show” at Shalimar Mughal Garden here Srinagar.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the charge of Power & Housing portfolios, stressed on the need for undertaking publicity campaigns at “vantage points” like the Jammu airport, railway station and bus-stands. The Power Development Department (PDD), he said, will devise a strategy to provide regular power supply to the health resorts.
Minister for Finance advised the Tourism Department to “strategize and find ways” to make J&K packages cheaper while asking it to showcase “local cuisines and recipes” at all major health resorts.
Minister for Forest and Social Welfare requested the CM to visit the Dessa Valley to bring the unexplored destination on the tourism map of the state.