To give flip to State tourism, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) and Information Department today urged for holistic infrastructural development along with tourism promotion of scenic destinations in the state.
Chairing a review meeting for the development of tourist infrastructure in Rajouri, the Minister said that it is important to bring other scenic areas into the tourist map who have remained in oblivion so far. Besides developing infrastructure at these places, he called for kicking up mega promotional activities of these areas.
Speaking further about the tourism selling model adopted by different countries, The Minister said some countries try to attract tourists with their scenic beauty, others have made their heritage sites as their unique selling points (USP). With good marketing and promotion, these countries are increasing the footfall of tourists which in turn is strengthening their economy and eventually raising the living standard of people there.
Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said it is ironical that despite having all these things in our State we still are not able to promote the State the way it deserves. He said J&K is blessed with unparalleled scenic beauty, which includes fresh water lakes and lush green meadows, towering snow clad mountains and exotic hill stations. He added the State is not only rich in its natural beauty, but also holds an honor in possessing rich cultural history giving it a distinction from the other places. Besides, he said its serenity has attracted Reshis and Sufis in the past to stay here and make it as their final abode and now their shrines have potential to attract scores of tourists from all faiths.
The Minister said the need of the hour is to connect the State’s scenic beauty, its history, and its culture with tourism, and let people in the Country and across the world know about these assets. He said exhaustive work needs to be done to identify and promote those areas of the State that so far have remained aloof of many development projects. Once identified, the infrastructure, primarily tourism related infrastructure needs to be developed in these areas so that they could be promoted as tourist destinations, the Minister said.
Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said while the tourist sites like Pahalgam and Gulmarg are known to both national and international tourists, yet there are many who still do not know that the State also has places like Rajouri which is parallel to Pahalgam in terms of its natural beauty. He said same is the case with Poonch and other similar areas, which due to lack of any tourism related infrastructural development and promotion are not receiving tourists as they deserve.
Reiterating on need for good marketing and promotion of all the areas of the State, the Minister said it is not just the people from outside State who are unaware about many scenic areas of the State, but even the State’s local population is also ignorant about their own places. He said it therefore becomes mandatory that a massive promotion campaign is started where the areas are identified and highlighted so that tourists will have a wide range of choice to visit.
Discussing the five schemes run by Rajouri Development Authority (RDA), the District Commissioner Rajouri Shaid Iqbal Choudhary informed the meeting that the development of ”Amusement Park” at Kotranka in the Rajouri district was the commitment of late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed. He informed that the scheme costs Rs 588 lakhs and the district administration under eco-tourism convergence fund is willing to bear 50 percent of the cost, and the rest 50 percent is to be taken care by the Tourism Department. Likewise, he said the developmental cost of “Danna Top” and “Kenchi Morh as tourist sites is Rs 188 lakhs. Again the District Administration would pay 50 percent of the cost, while the rest 50 percent is to be managed by Tourism department.
Discussing the development of “Seven Lakes on Pir Panjal Ranges”, the Minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said it was the commitment of the Mufti Mohammad sahib and should be honored by starting work on the project at an earliest. The meeting was informed that the scheme cost is around Rs 3200 lakhs.
Likewise, the Minister directed the concerned to expedite the work on other schemes including “Running Water Resort on River Ans”, and “Construction of Tribal Cultural Centre at Nagrota, Rajouri.”
He said all the concerned agencies should work in synergy to complete these projects at an earliest. The Minister urged while developing the infrastructure the local aesthetics should be kept in mind, adding outer appearances should match with the locale. The meeting also decided to host a Rajouri festival in coming months, where different aspects of the district including its rich cultural heritage, its unique cuisines would be presented to the visitors. The Minister also directed the tourism department to send the festival related promotional material in all the marts organized in different States of the Country so that maximum number of tourists could come and enjoy the festival.
The meeting also discussed establishing of Gandola project in the area for which the Minister directed the district administration and the officers from Cable Car Corporation to identify certain sites from which the project could be started from.
Secretary Tourism M H Malik, Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Managing Director JK Tourism Development Corporation Sarmand Hafeez, Director Tourism Samita Sethi, General Manager, Cable Car Corporation G M Jamali, Managing Director Cable Car Corporation, Conservator, Forest, West Circle, Rajouri B Mohan Das, M D Shamim Ahmad Wani, Chief Executive Officer Rajouri District Authority Showkat Malik and other concerned officers attended the meeting.