SRINAGAR: With an aim to bring Jammu and Kashmir on the world tourism map, the government is taking slew of measures to identify and introduce virgin destinations to the outside world.
This was revealed at a virtual meeting chaired by Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Baseer Ahmad Khan, attended by Chairman & Managing Director, India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Secretary Tourism J&K and other officers.
The meeting was held in order to list out the various parameters that need to be worked out for identifying new tourist destinations and building up of infrastructure there.
Advisor while chairing the meeting said that the government is identifying new destinations which can be introduced to the outside world. He said that foreign as well as domestic tourists should come to know that apart from Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Yousmarg there are a lot of places which are yet to be explored and hold very high potential from the tourism point of view in both Jammu Division and Kashmir Division. He said this is the area where ITDC needs to play its part and help in the promotion and marketing of JK tourism.
Advisor said that Lieutenant Governor has directed the tourism department to come up with the list of new Tourist destinations and has laid stress on revival of trekking routes. The Advisor said that ITDC needs to visit the locations which are being identified in Jammu and Kashmir and point out the basic amenities, facilities and wayside amenities that are required to give a flip to the Tourism infrastructure in the Union Territory. He said that we need consultancy services of ITDC to identify the infrastructural gaps so that these locations could attract footfall of tourists from outside world.
He said that apart from normal tourist destinations, we have earmarked areas for trekking, paragliding, water rafting and winter sports. He also said that there are certain rivers where rafting can be introduced, besides certain programmes are also in the pipeline. Advisor also said that Jammu and Kashmir has a huge potential for adventure tourism and will be a focus of attention for the government.
Advisor Baseer Khan said that there is a need to identify and set goals on the basis of priority before embarking on working on different models and there is a need to delineate and identify areas where ITDC can provide its support.
In the short term goals, he said that focus on winter sports activities and skiing competition at national and international level needs to be prioritized.
In the medium term goals, those destinations need to be identified where hardy any infrastructure exists. ITDC needs to supplement the infrastructural gaps and its marketability. On long term basis, Advisor said that there is need to identify such locations that require high level investment for creating infrastructure and other logistics on the pattern of Gulmarg before they are ready for tourist influx. He said that Dodhpathri, Bangus, Gurez, Sonamarg, Basholi, higher areas in district Rajouri and Doda are some of the areas which need long term investment for better dividends.
While setting the goals and identifying the requirements, Advisor emphasised that everything has to be achieved by drawing a timeline for each activity in order to usher into new areas of activities as far as tourism is concerned.
Secretary Tourism, JK gave a brief about the new destinations and said government has taken several steps to boost tourism and is giving attention to the development of tourism-related infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir. He also said that the department is looking at public-private partnership and outsourcing some of its assets like hutments, hotels, road side facilities and said that the help of ITDC will be quite gainful. He also said that ITDC needs to provide its support in organising road shows, publicity campaigns, running of documentaries on international market, workshops.