Regretting negative portrayal of the state by certain outside media, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today described tourism as an important means of people to people dialogue.
Addressing the delegates of India Tavel Mart (ITM) here this evening, the Chief Minister, according to an official statement, said there is no better mechanism to let the outsiders know the State, its people and the situation on their own than the tourism sector. That is why, she said, every tourist visit to the State is a step towards peace.
Asking the Tourism Department and tour operators to work together for improving the tourist footfall to the state, the chief minister said the impression about the state would improve consequentially with more and more tourist arrivals as they would be judging the place for themselves rather than relying on newsroom discussions of some news channels.
Mehbooba Mufti said that it is true that Jammu Kashmir is having certain political issues but the hospitable nature of its people was never given proper and appropriate coverage. She recalled how a boatman in Dal recently rescued a tourist family when his boat capsized and in the process got himself drowned and how some injured Amarnath Yatris were treated by local people during the last few difficult months. But these things were not reflected appropriately, she said.
She said: "Some media channels unfortunately created gory pictures on both the sides and tourism is the best way to bridge this gap."
Terming the vision of late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed about Jammu & Kashmir as the cornerstone of her Government, the Chief Minister said the late leader believed that peace was imperative for development of the State and for that dialogue and discourse was a must. She said the aim of the late leader was to bring closer hearts and minds of people of the three regions of the state when he thought of making the Government in 2014. His aim was to unite people and regions and not divide them, she said.
Mehbooba Mufti said: "If peace and development in J&K is so desired it can be fulfilled only by following the vision and dream of the late leader and whatever he had conceptualized for tourism promotion in the state would be accomplished by the present government with all seriousness. Ambitious projects like border tourism, Ranjit Sagar Dam, Tawi lake etc. in Jammu province would be pursued.
Chief Minister asked delegates to sit down and see how Jammu and Kashmir can be marketed in tourism industry for every section of society. Why can't we have some separate packages for adventure seekers, pilgrimage seekers, women and girls as J&K has remained safest on women's security count.
Mehbooba Mufti said tourist infrastructure needs more and more upgradation and it needs to be made environment friendly while providing the guests all the requisite facilities. She said the centre has allocated sufficient funds for tourism development in the state and hoped that in the coming months and years tourist infrastructure would be upgraded exponentially.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister distributed 4th All India Tour and Travel awards among the winners.