SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also holds charge of the department of tourism, met delegations of businessmen and stakeholders in Kashmir’s tourism industry on Sunday. Principal secretary to the chief minister, Navin K. Chaudhary, and secretary tourism, floriculture, gardens & parks, Farooq A. Shah, were also present on the occasion.
The chief minister said at the meeting that “It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to see that no visitor is harassed.”
Seeking support in maintaining peace at all times, the chief minister said that the tourism industry bears the brunt when peace is disturbed in the valley.
During her meeting with delegations of J&K Tourism Alliance and Travel Agents’ Association of Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti said that there remain many areas in Jammu & Kashmir that have not been tapped for their tourism potential.
“We have to reach out to the tourists with open arms, so that they experience the rich hospitality for which we are famous all over the world,” she said, while urging hoteliers, houseboat owners, shikarawallas, ponywallas, tour & travel operators to ensure that tourists go back with fond memories of the place.
Mufti also told the delegations that the tourism department was developing a mobile app that would enable tourists to make online bookings. She said that road shows would be organised in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, from where Kashmir receives a large number of tourists.
At the meeting, Mufti asked the tourism secretary to promote paying-guest accommodation in Srinagar’s downtown areas. The business delegations appreciated the efforts made by the chief minister in reviving the tourism industry.
Some of the issues brought to the notice of the chief minister were exorbitant airfares, no uniformity in hotel rates, harassment of tourists at Gulmarg and Sonamarg, and cleaning of Dal Lake.
A delegation of Adventure Tour Operators of Kashmir, led by Rauf Tramboo, also met the chief minister and highlighted the potential of adventure tourism in the state. Mufti asked the tourism secretary to devise a plan for adventure tourism activities at Tossa Maidan and Bangus valley.
A delegation of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), led by Mushaq Ahmad Wani, met the chief minister and requested her to reconsider the state’s industrial policy and to promote the handicraft industry.
Another delegation of Basix Social Enterprises, led by Raja Muzaffar, met the chief minister and briefed her of the initiatives it had taken in promotion of skill development, livelihood for low-income households, solid waste management, and access to institutional finance. The delegation told the CM of its technique of household-level waste collection that segregates different kinds of waste. The company has offered its services to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation in five wards to begin with.