With Aussie delegation, Mehbooba bats for exchange programmes

SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday batted for greater cultural exchanges, initiatives and assistance programmes to bolster key areas like education, skill development and tourism in the state.
She said interaction between stakeholders at various levels will help change perception about travelling to Kashmir, particularly from overseas countries.
The chief minister made these observations during a meeting with a high-level Australian business delegation, here on Sunday evening. Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof Amitabh Mattoo, was also present on the occasion.
Laying impetus on greater interface between students, entrepreneurs and travel industry of J&K and Australia, Mehbooba Mufti said while our stakeholders will benefit immensely from importation of best practices, those from countries like Australia will get to see a J&K which is totally different from how it is projected before the world.
“I am looking forward to your support in changing perception about travelling to Kashmir, which deprives us of our fair share of overseas visitors,” she told the visiting delegation.
Mehbooba also discussed in detail the need for taking tangible measures towards revising the travel advisory on J&K, which she said will help increase tourist footfall from Australia.
The Australian Ambassador to India, Patrick Suckling, in his meeting with former chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, a few months ago had promised to take up the issue so that more businessmen and tourists visit J&K.
The members of the delegation informed the chief minister about how their perspective on travelling to Kashmir has changed the moment they landed here.
During the meeting, the CM discussed the possibilities of partnership in various key areas like education, tourism, horticulture, handicrafts and skill development. She also sought sharing of knowledge from Down Under, particularly in sheep-rearing and fruit processing, where Australia has set global benchmarks.
On opportunities of mutual collaboration in the burgeoning travel industry, Mehbooba ticked golf, skiing, angling and trekking as the first areas which high-end Australian visitors will find alluring.
She also pointed out the huge potential the state has in horticulture sector. She said transfer of knowledge will come as a shot in the arm for young and budding entrepreneurs who are setting new trends in agriculture and allied sectors.
The Australian delegation was represented by Paul Little, Founder & Chairman of the Little Group, James Connell, Director, Officer in Executive Control, Marshall White, Bryan Dorman, Non-Executive Director, Regis Aged Care, Reggie Paul, Managing Director, PLM Global Statistics, Ian Roberts, Non-Executive Director, Regis Aged Care and Harish Rao, Global Head, Business Development, Sundaram Business Services.
—Information Department