Gulmarg goes heli-skiing

WASIM KHALID

Gulmarg Feb 1: Forget the days when you would climb the summit of steep rocky slopes of Gulmarg with ski on your shoulders. The department of tourism Tuesday launched heli-skiing at the world famous tourist resort.
Apart from enjoying the virgin turfs of different sections of Gulmarg, the skiers would get access to those peaks and slopes which were out of bounds for the adventure sports lovers.
Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora launched heli skiing, a joint venture of M/s Himalaya Sports and Moten Joseph of New Zealand.
“With the start of heli-skiing facility Gulmarg has become an international destination for the winter sport lovers” Jora said. “This will increase the tourist influx as well.”
He said the heli-skiing facility would be mostly availed by affluent people and thus it would attract people from all around the world with high spending power. “Ultimately the people involved in the trade would be immensely benefited”.
Jora said that tourism department is upgrading gondola cable car in order to host an international event.
“A technical team of international ski federation visited Gulmarg. They have asked to upgrade the gondola and other facilities so that they would hold an international event,” “We were scheduled to complete the upgradation of gondola by December 2010. However due to unrest we could not do it. Now we would complete the work by September 2010”.
He said once the international event takes place, Gulmarg would be introduced to the world.
The minister said despite unrest in valley estimated 7.36 lakh tourists visited the state. He said among them, 23000 were foreigners.
Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani said local participation is must to publicize the tourism in Kashmir.
“We encourage that youth should got for adventure tourism,” he said.
Director heli ski Company, Martin Jones said they were working from very long time to turn the Gulmarg into international ski destination.
“It was a dream that has come true. This heli ski project would help attract tourists to Gulmarg in large numbers from around the world in coming years. It would also create job opportunities for the local population,” he said.
Director Tourism Kashmir, Farooq Shah said the heli ski was a milestone achieved in the field of adventure tourism.
“It was after 25 years that we again started the heli-skiing at Gulmarg,” he said. “The Gondola second phase would open new vistas for winter tourism in Kashmir”.
He said the department is exploring all possibilities to encourage private sector for promoting tourism. “Whosoever wants to start any project for the tourism development purpose, the government would provide assistance and incentives according to the scheme”.
Shah said tourism department would also start heli-ski facility in Aharbal, Sonamarg and Kolhoi areas.
Majid Bakshi said the heli ski would grant skiers access to ridges and virgin white turfs which were almost impossible to reach.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST




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