Govt to promote Kashmir globally as safest, best tourism destination

Stakeholders for sustainable tourism, infrastructure upgradation

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Nov 30: Buoyed with the lifting of travel advisory by Britain, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has resolved to promote J&K as “one of the best and safest” tourist destinations globally. 
Britain lifted nearly two-decade old travel advisory for its citizens against Srinagar and Jammu earlier this year following “extensive persuasion by the Government.”
In this backdrop the “Government through the Tourism Department is exploring options to promote the state by adopting a multi-pronged global strategy for attracting tourists to the State.”
“It is high time to promote the State especially Kashmir Valley as one of the safest and best tourist destinations. We need to attract more tourists including foreigners to give boost to the tourism sector,” Talat Pervez Director Tourism Kashmir told Greater Kashmir.
“For this endeavour we are formulating a comprehensive multi-pronged strategy including media campaigns to promote Kashmir,” Talat said.
To garner support and incorporate suggestions for the strategy, the Director Tourism held a brainstorming session with the stakeholders today.
During the session majority of the stakeholders recommended upgradation of tourism infrastructure before going for wide publicity. 
“We do not have the capacity and infrastructure to cater to large number of tourists. There is not a single lavatory functional from Airport to tourist destinations here. We don’t have proper roads and transport facilities. We need for focus on up gradating our basic infrastructure before going for global publicity,” said Faiz Bakshi, president of Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF).
His views were echoed by Mubeen Shah, president Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Instead of wide publicity Kashmir needs regulated tourism to safeguard its fragile eco-system. It is high time to limit the number of tourism inflow to the Valley and upgrade the existing tourism infrastructure. We need to promote Kashmir as one of the best destinations for eco and niche tourism,” he said.
Showkat Chaudhary president of Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association said the government should promote lean tourism season of Kashmir. “In summer most of the hotels are occupied. We have observed that in Autumn and winter there is sharp dip in tourist arrivals,” he said.
Rauf Tramboo, president Travel Agents Association of Kashmir stressed for sustainable tourism. “Basic infrastructure is prerequisite for tourism. We need to give publicity to lesser known tourist places in Kashmir. Our association has adopted Lolab and Bangus areas in Kupwara and are marketing them extensively. But for these places to be part of Kashmir’s tourism map authorities have to provide basic facilities for tourists,” Tramboo said.
Shamim Shah, president Travel Agents Association of India (JK Chapter) stressed for quality tourism. “There was a time when we needed numbers to project Kashmir as a safe destination. But we have crossed that stage and need to focus on high end tourism for which we have to upgrade our infrastructure,” he said.
His views were shared by Abdul Hamid Wangoo, general secretary, Houseboats Owners Association. “For past many years we have been demanding upgradation of tourism infrastructure and basic facilities. But the successive regimes have neglected this vital aspect. We are not even allowed to repair houseboats which are main attraction of tourists. Tourist areas are reeling under darkness and sans basic facilities and ironically government talks of giving wide publicity to Kashmir,” Wangoo said.  
During the session Tajamul Hussain chief strategic officer of the Travel Trendz Television an International TV Channel promoting world travel and tourism gave a presentation on various options to promote Kashmir as a complete tourist destination.
He said 773 million people travel to various tourist destinations across India. “Andhra Pradesh bags 21.3 percent while Jammu and Kashmir stands at 26th place with a share of just 1.3 percent. JK needs extensive promotion globally to attract more tourists,” he said.
On the occasion, Abdul Rauf Bhat president Jammu and Kashmir Bank and Sajad Bazaz editor and incharge of Corporate Communications agreed in principal to partner Tourism Department in its publicity campaign.
A representative of the Go Air airlines also extended support to the department publicity campaign.
Director Tourism Talat Pervez said the department would incorporate suggestions of all the stakeholders and devise the publicity strategy accordingly.
“We are making all efforts to upgrade basic infrastructure. But at the same time we have to give wide global publicity to Kashmir to sustain our tourism sector,” Pervez said. 

Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 30 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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