Chandigarh: Keen to promote border tourism in a big way, Jammu and Kashmir Tourism plans to develop the Suchetgarh international border near Jammu on the pattern of the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab.
Infrastructure will be developed in the area to shore up tourist arrivals.
“We are now going to promote border tourism in a big way. Suchetgarh is a place in Jammu district. We are planning to develop that spot like the Attari-Wagah border. Though it is not a trade route, we are now going to create infrastructure on that (Attari-Wagah) pattern,” Director Tourism, Jammu, R K Varma said here on Monday.
Varma, accompanied by Deputy Director, Tourism, Jammu, S K Attri, was speaking on the sidelines of J-K Tourism Department’s roadshow here to showcase different tourist destinations in the state.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, during a visit to Suchetgarh last year, had pitched for developing the international border on the pattern of the Attari-Wagah border. Suchetgarh is about 30 km from Jammu.
Varma said there are big plans to give tourism sector in the state a “big push” this year.
He said that various projects are in the pipeline or at the stage of execution to create and upgrade tourist infrastructure in the state.
“There is a backwater lake in Basholi (45 km from Pathankot in Punjab), sub-divisional headquarter in one of the sub-divisions of district Kathua. A lake has been formed because of the Ranjit Sagar Dam there. It is a huge, majestic lake.”
“There is huge water sports activity potential in that lake. The government is going to explore the potential of that lake through PPP mode. A Detailed Project Report has been prepared. We are going to develop and harness entire potential of that lake and that will become a gateway of tourism to J&K,” he said.
Varma said an amusement park will also be set up in Jammu near the 18-hole Sidhra Golf Course, which was inaugurated in October last year. “Nearby that golf course, we are going to create an amusement park at an investment of Rs 50 crore, which again will be in PPP mode,” he said.
Varma also said that in the famous Baag-e-Bahu garden in Jammu, a light and sound show project costing around Rs 15 crore is coming up.
“There is one more project for Katra that includes light and sound show and other infrastructure improvement project,” he said.
Over the next 2-3 years, there will be even better infrastructure for the tourists, he said.
Before the onset of the next tourist season, Verma said all the roads leading to major destinations will be upgraded so that tourists do not face any difficulty.
Besides, the focus will also be to attract tourists to lesser known destinations in the State, which are equally beautiful.
“For high-end tourists, we are also offering helicopter services from Srinagar to Gulmarg and from Srinagar to Pahalgam, costing around Rs 12,000 and Rs 13,000 to and fro, respectively,” he said.
He said Bollywood was once again turning to J&K for film shootings, which had taken a hit when militancy was at its peak earlier.
“Recently, Salman Khan starrer ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ was also shot in Kashmir. That sent out a positive message. Prior to that, few more Bollywood films were shot in the Valley,” he said.
Touching upon the tourist arrival figures, Varma said, “In 2014, total footfall in major destinations in Jammu region that included Vaishno Devi shrine, Shiv Khori, Patnitop, Mansar, Shahdra Sharief, was 1.01 crore. During 2015, it was 1.10 crore.”
“Still, tourist arrivals are not up to our expectations, because we expect more,” he said.
About the lack of air connectivity and poor rail connectivity between Chandigarh and Jammu, Varma said, “We will definitely take up the issue with the ministries of Civil Aviation and Railways”.
About the roadshows, he said J&K Tourism Department will be holding a roadshow in Nagpur this week.