‘Have to take care of environmental consequences building tourism infrastructure’
JAMMU: The state government has adopted a multipronged strategy to harness the tourism potential and position Jammu and Kashmir as the leading global destination, Minister for Tourism, Tassaduq Hussain Mufti said on Monday. The idea is to make the tourism sector as the principal engine of the state’s economic growth, he added.
Winding up the discussion on Demands for Grants of Tourism and allied Departments for the year 2018-19, the Minister, in his maiden speech in the Legislative Assembly, said government’s endeavour would be to frame a tourism policy for not just creating jobs but to ensure better livelihood for the people, an official handout read.
“We should not ignore the environmental consequences while creating infrastructure and exploring new destinations,” he said while highlighting the emerging situation around Pyangong Lake, Ladakh and Sonamarg in Kashmir due to uncontrolled human activities.
He stressed on the need on “laying equal focus on the waste management” in the environmentally fragile destinations.
“To achieve the set targets, the tourism department is working in a mission mode to make JK a destination that is natural in its environs, global in standards, modern in outlook, traditional in its hospitality, mystical in sensibilities and entertaining in its experience” he added.
The minister said that a self-sustained tourism model has been envisioned and is being implemented in all three regions of the state for inclusive socio-economic development and ensuring emergence of each region as exclusive independent tourist destination, read the handout.
He said that emphasis was being laid on creating durable assets in all the potential tourist spots of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh so that a good tourist influx was influenced towards the state.
Giving details of the projects taken up under the various scheme, he said that development of Sound and Light Show with water fountains at SKICC Ghats at a cost of Rs 8 crore and Rs 1.53 crore Eco Log Multipurpose Hall at Apple Resort at Chinniwooder in Anantnag has been completed, while wayside amenities in Bijbehara at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore and development of tourism infrastructure at Suchetgarh border at a cost of Rs 4.92 crore was in progress, it further read.
“To promote pilgrimage centres through a holistic infrastructure development approach, Ministry of Tourism, GoI has sanctioned Rs 42 crore for development of Hazratbal under Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD). On the same lines, a project has been formulated for integrated development of Katra” he added.
He said that department was also focussing on promoting adventure tourism in the state by way of setting up of base camps, paragliding and water sports facilities at Nunkun, Kargil, Patnitop, Wullar, Naranag and Dhara Harwan, read the handout. Steps were also being taken to develop the un-explored areas of the state having huge Tourism potential like Bungus valley, Lolab Valley, Tosa Maidan, Thajwas, Gurez and Tulail valley, Sinthan Top, area of Mughal road and others, he added.
The minister informed the House that to increase the tourist influx, the department of tourism had also sponsored international tourism events at London and Dubai besides, participated in various travel marts held at Kolkata, Mumbai, Amritsar, Chennai, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Surat, New Delhi, Lukhnow and Pune.
He said the emphasis was being laid on encouraging foreign tourist flow and the short-distance market has been generating tourist to the State in general and to Kashmir Division in particular.
Religious tourism being a major component of tourism activities in the state, focussed attention was being given to develop all pilgrim places, he said. “A major chunk of the domestic traffic consists of pilgrim tourists, keeping this factor in view, centre/state government is giving maximum thrust for development of pilgrim tourism”, the minister said.
Further, the minister said that to dispel the negative perception and restore the confidence of the intending tourist, the department is inclined to embark upon a forcefull campaign under which, it has come up with videos giving message to the people to visit state to experience its beauty and hospitality.
“The video clip ‘Kashmir: The Warmest Place on Earth’ has become a social media sensation these days and has successfully spread the message across the globe inviting the tourists to J&K and feel its warmth”, he said.
Regarding initiatives taken by the department to further boost tourism, he said that winter festival at Gulmarg is being organised every year in the month of January while, Golf Championship at Royal Springs, Srinagar, Pahalgam and Jammu Tawi Golf Course had also been organised, the handout further read.
He said that steps have also been taken for promotion and publicity of the innumerable tourist spots and development of matching tourist infrastructure in order to attract and facilitate the tourists from across India and worldwide.
To boost rural tourism and economy, the minister said that series of events comprising local festivals, melas have been held across Jammu province showcasing the local traditions and culture, it read.
Giving details of tourist arrivals in the state, the minister informed that during 2017, 12,27,764 (including foreign and domestic) tourists visited Kashmir, 9,22,800 to Jammu and 23,0662 to Ladakh region.
He further informed that 25,9581 pilgrim tourists visited Kashmir to pay obeisance at Amarnath Cave and 81,70,880 visited Vaishno Devi temple.
The House later passed the grants of Rs 55746.19 lakh for tourism department with voice-vote, the handout added.