SRINAGAR: World Tourism Day was celebrated across Kashmir today with a number of functions marking the occasion while following the COVID-19 protocol.
In this regard, the main function by the Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir was held at Nehru Park here which comprised a shikara race, demonstrations of Kayaking, Canoeing sports including canoe slalom, canoe sprint and motorboat.
Secretary, Youth Services & Sports and Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez presided over the function.
Speaking on the occasion, the Secretary Tourism assured the tourism stakeholders that the department is committed to promote the sector in a big way in the coming times. He assured full support to the tourism players in this regard. He said on World Tourism Day, the Department pledges its solidarity with the stakeholders in bringing the sector out of the present COVID times.
Terming Dal lake as the identity of Kashmir and its tourism, Sarmad Hafeez said that this place has been the central point of Kashmir tourism since decades and centuries.
Referring to the present COVID crisis world-wide, the Secretary Tourism said the need has been felt of a responsible tourism in the coming times in terms of observance of SoPs or arranging any other related facilities. “We will ensure that all SOP guidelines are maintained while allowing tourism activities,” he said and appealed all stakeholders to adhere to the COVID protocols as these are devised from time to time.
On the occasion, Sarmad Hafeez flagged off a Shikara Race in the Dal lake. Wearing traditional attire (pheran), over 50 boatmen participated in the Shikara Race giving Dal Lake a festive early morning look. Later he also distributed prizes among the winners of the Shikara competition.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani while speaking on the occasion said the department has already started tourism promotional campaigns to send a message that Kashmir is open for tourists. He said by celebrating the World Tourism Day today, the Department has sent a message that we welcome the tourists with all Covid-19 protocols and SOPs.
Joint Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Tabassum Shafat Kamili and other senior officers of the Department, officers from Disaster Management Department, J&K Cultural Academy, NDRF & SDRF, representatives of Water Sports Association were present on the occasion.
President, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq A Kuthoo, representatives of Houseboat Owners Association and Shikara Associations and others were also present and spoke on the occasion.
An important attraction of the event was a presentation of Kashmiri music by renowned artists and surfing event by two young water sportspersons.
Earlier in the day, the Secretary, Tourism also flagged off a rally of Mountain Bikers at TRC from Srinagar to Doodpathri.
On the occasion, the Secretary, Tourism said the Department in collaboration with stakeholders is planning to organise activities for which Kashmir is famous for. He said cycling has a great tradition locally and one can enjoy the serenity and environment of surroundings through cycling only. “Tourism trade world over is in distress globally due to COVID-19 but it is high time that we should learn to live with it and undertake such activities which are both healthy and safe and today we are starting with that”, he said.
Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani, senior officers of the Department and representatives of various tourism associations and adventure lovers were present on the occasion.
Mountain Bikers drove to Doodpathri to mark the day. The highlight of the rally was the participation of a 84 year cyclist, Ghulam Rasool who had come with all enthusiasm and determination to attend the event.
Reports of celebrating World Tourism Day were received from various tourist destinations like Sonmarg, Pahalgam, Yusmarg and Gulmarg and Tourist
Development Authorities across Kashmir with varied campaigns like sanitation drives, conservation campaigns and other events being highlights of the day.