MUFTI PITCHES FOR HIGH END TOURISM, NEW DESTINATIONS
Cautions Against ‘Rejoicing Enforced Peace’
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, July 16: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has said the expansion and up-gradation of tourism infrastructure had gained urgency in the face of inevitable need to promote high end tourism in the state.
“Kashmir, Ladakh and many places in Jammu are designed by nature for high spending elite tourists but lack of infrastructure has hampered the realization of true worth of this potential,” Mufti said while addressing a public meeting at Kokernag tourist resort in South Kashmir today.
Mufti said it was heartening that tourism flow to Kashmir had steadily grown ‘after its revival in 2003 following long years of strife.’ “But numbers alone do not determine the true economic potential of this highly sensitive activity that also has a direct impact on environment which in the case of J&K is a primary concern,” he said.
He said the inherent strength of Kashmir had sustained it as a global brand name in tourism and handicrafts even in the worst times of its history. “But we have to build on these strengths an infrastructure that can compete the best in the world and attract the tourists with high spending power and respect for ecology and environment for which very strict standards will have to be enforced,” he said.
Recalling the major initiatives his government had taken for revival and expansion of tourism, Mufti said as many as 22 tourism development authorities were set up with projects worth hundreds of crores sanctioned with assured funding. Work on golf courses, clubs, accommodation and other amenities was started in established destinations like Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Ladakh and Patni Top. However, Mufti said, of higher importance was to promote new destinations and virgin spots all over the richly endowed state and Kokernag, Verinag, Aharbal and Achabal were among the long list of such places brought under the purview of Tourist Development Authorities (TDAs).
“It is unfortunate the effort has not been carried forward significantly like many other initiatives of the previous coalition treating them as ‘enemy’ projects,” Mufti regretted. He said development of new places was also necessary to achieve the dual objective of spreading tourism activity and its benefits as also to relieve pressure on traditional destinations which have been choking under increased number of footfalls.
Mufti said it is time that the state focused on quality of tourism rather than just swelling numbers. “Even as the government has conveyed no impression of changing its ways of functioning, the business community must come out with a response to the new situation,” he said while expressing satisfaction at some high end infrastructure projects coming up at some places. He called for more such projects away from the golden triangle of Srinagar-Pahalgam-Gulmarg, special government incentives for tourism investment in less developed areas and said the tourism industry too has a responsibility to enforce strict standards for fair trade practices. He said an integrated policy was needed to add value to brand name Kashmir which must become sacrosanct in the global tourism industry and remain safe from exploitation by a few unscrupulous elements.
Mufti said the present government has been unable to build on the culture of innovative progress created by the previous coalition.
“This government is only using the number of tourism arrivals as propaganda to pat itself undeservedly for enforcing an uneasy calm that it claims to be peace,” he said.
He said it was unfortunate that responsible voices from the Central government too wanted the country to rejoice such dubious claims when the ground reality in the state was defined by unprecedented loot of national resources, maladministration, bad governance, development freeze and brute government force to silence criticism. “Don’t mistake this calm enforced through security measures as peace. Sustainable peace will come only when fundamental political, developmental and governance issues are addressed seriously and people gain a sense of achievement,” he cautioned.
Expressing concern at the paralysis of administration, Mufti said there is not a single area of achievement for this coalition in its nearly four years of rule. He said the political waywardness of the coalition partners was understandable as they were not bound by any common minimum program on development and political issues. “The only agreed program for them seems to be a six-year tenure for the chief minister and independence for every minister to do as they please,” he said. He added that this anarchy at the top had resulted in the collapse of administration and every government amenity or public service was being sold against money. Government jobs, he said, are once again being sold for monetary or political favors and youth are once again finding themselves crushed under vested interest which is a dangerous feeling to grow.
On this occasion, PDP National Spokesperson Dr Sameer Kaul said it was unfortunate that National Conference ‘after having created a wedge between the state and rest of the country had itself struck bonds of friendship with whosoever ruled Delhi, but used brutal methods to crush opposition to it at home.’
“Youth were the worst victims of this duplicity and many generations of Kashmiris had suffered as a result, with NC itself enjoying power and luxuries,” he said.
He said it was a pleasant development that the people particularly youth of the state had started getting impressed with the PDP agenda and aligning with it. “Self rule is a document of hope and it is natural that the youth who have been the worst victims of conflict strike an easy bond with our agenda,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 17 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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