2022: Year of hope for tourism in Kashmir

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By tweeting “Whenever you get the chance, visit Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] and attend the picturesque tulip festival. In addition to the tulips, you will experience the warm hospitality of the people of J&K ”, Modi underlined the uniqueness of the place and its people. Shah’s tweet after J&K’s visit also echoed the same sentiments.

By Farooq Wani

Kashmir tourism last year found unusual brand ambassadors in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah. By tweeting “Whenever you get the chance, visit Jammu and Kashmir [J&K] and attend the picturesque tulip festival. In addition to the tulips, you will experience the warm hospitality of the people of J&K ”, Modi underlined the uniqueness of the place and its people. Shah’s tweet after J&K’s visit also echoed the same sentiments.

J&K has enormous tourism potential and being a labor intensive industry, it offers a very wide field of employment compared to other companies. Being a multi-sector industry, tourism also offers a wide variety of jobs like hotel managers, receptionists, accountants, clerks, guides, travel agents, chefs, housekeeping staff, operators. transport, etc. Tourism provides a good livelihood for the local population as well as generates revenue for the public treasury.

Jammu and Kashmir saw the highest tourist footfall on record this season, especially during the months of November and December due to the festive fever of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Hotel occupancy has hit an all-time high with 2.5 people from the lake visiting Kashmir during these months. The first snowfall has also drawn large numbers of tourists to J&K from other parts of India and it appears that despite COVID fears, the tourism industry in J&K is returning to normal for the first time. after a decade. Compared to 4.1 lakh of tourist attendance last year, Kashmir has already crossed the six lakh mark this year as foreign coasts remain off-limits due to COVID-related restrictions.

The J&K government deserves to be duly congratulated for having spared no effort in promoting tourism in the territory of the Union. Numerous roadshows are held in different parts of the country and abroad, not only to attract tourists, but also to provide potential investors with the opportunity to have a dialogue about investment opportunities in the region. These roadshows have covered cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmedabad and even Dubai.

J&K Tourism Department also organized Jammu Festival, Rafting Championship, Christmas Carnival in Gulmarg and Pahalgam, Winter Carnival, Gulmarg Snow Festival, Lohri Festival and Mata Vaishno Devi Sangeet Sammelan as part of its calendar of activities. This wide range of celebrations and activities has given a certain impetus to tourism. JK Government is promoting 75 new tourist spots by developing comprehensive facilities in an integrated manner with adequate offerings of recreational activities, restaurants and restrooms to facilitate a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of J & K’s cultural and architectural heritage .

Mumbai-based business mogul Ajay Maheshvari, who recently visited Kashmir, said the beauty had fascinated him in different ways, especially when it was snowing heavily.

The introduction of direct evening flights has given a boost to tourism at J&K and night flight operations have already started at Srinagar ‘Sheikh Ul Alam’ airport, allowing travelers to enter the valley. at any time of the day. In addition, direct flights from large cities like Bangalore will attract more visitors to the Union territory. Speaking to this columnist, director of Kashmir Tourism, Dr GN Itoo said the valley has been aiming for such development for a long time, as direct and evening flights will help travelers, especially busy people like businessmen. , to save time. He said such flights would increase the influx of tourists into the Union territory.

Farooq Katroo, owner of Best Travels (Travel Operator) and Best View Resort (Group of House Boats) located in the Golden Zone of Dal Lake, said night flights would significantly contribute to Jammu and Kashmir’s economic growth , as the tourism sector forms the heart of the economy which is one of the vital components of the economy of Kashmir. He further said: “I have never seen such a large influx of tourists during the month of December in my life.”

Kashmir was traditionally the preferred location for Bollywood films until activism erupted there three decades ago. However, with conditions improving day by day, Bollywood filmmakers are once again showing a willingness to return to the valley. TV and Bollywood actresses Simran Sachdeva (Choti Sardarni) who were traveling to Kashmir to shoot his video album said that “we have to prioritize Kashmir over other parts of the world for filming. He has wonderful places. She also praised the pristine glory of Kashmir.

The J&K Center and Government, at the first-ever “J&K Real Estate Conference” held in Jammu, decided to open local real estate for “second homes and summer homes” in all citizens of the country. This is a major boost to attract investment and a step towards development, which will also improve business opportunities at J&K, especially in the tourism sector.

Under the dynamic leadership of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, government officials are working to convince Dubai business leaders to become prominent players in key sectors such as tourism and crafts, as well as take advantage of investment opportunities in the territory of the Union. In its continued efforts to strengthen the hospitality and tourism industry, the J&K government has signed a memorandum of understanding with pioneering United Arab Emirates financial services company Century Financial, which will invest $ 100 million in the Union territory. This investment will cover 3 hotels and a commercial and residential complex in Jammu and Kashmir.

Much effort is being put into overcoming unemployment in J&K which leads to discontent among young people and appears to be the biggest obstacle to achieving full normalcy in the region. Basically, qualification, entrepreneurship and higher education would go a long way in boosting employment. A targeted approach with job-generating factors being the government’s Key Result Areas (KRAs) would accumulate maximum benefits. By far the most important factor is the active participation of the population.

Infrastructure continues to be a weak link in the chain of the development process. While the main roads are well mapped out, the ring roads are in a state of neglect. It is known that every year heavy snowfall wreaks havoc on the roads, however, a solution must be found. There is also the problem of erratic electricity supply and lack of other modern equipment. Lack of infrastructure is always a deterrent for visitors and the sooner this situation is rectified, the better. A tense security situation is no longer an excuse to block movement in this direction, it is imperative for Kashmir to witness a considerable facelift in case the tourism and trade potential is fully exploited.

Now is the time for all the real stakeholders with the good of Kashmir in mind to join hands in isolating those with hostile designs. Now is the time to be mature and work towards consolidating the gains that have been accumulated through hard work and great sacrifice. J&K demands constructive contribution, not opportunism. Nothing can be gained by reliving or lamenting a traumatized past in a way that overshadows a bright future. Instead, it’s time to look ahead and work for a bright future.

(The author is editor-in-chief of Brighter Kashmir, television commentator, political analyst, and columnist. Email: [email protected] Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited).

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