While asking for cooperation of stakeholders, Secretary Tourism Farooq Ahmad Shah pitched for 'South African Model of Adventure Safari Tourism', which does not disturb wild animals and is also nature friendly.
"African countries have most popular tourism products and attract large number of tourists," Shah said while addressing a seminar titled 'Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism' organised by Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK) and Wildlife SOS on Wednesday here. The event was supported by Tourism Department, J&K Bank and Hotel Grand Mumtaz.
He said ecotourism wing of the Forest Department should come up with such type of animal friendly programs. "We must encourage adventure programs in JK which could help to watch and ward the wildlife," said Shah, who is also Secretary Floriculture and Education.
He said that the adventure tour operators often come across the wildlife in the mountains, may it be mammals, herbal plants, mountain flowers or trout etc.
The seminar was organized in continuation of International Day for Biodiversity commemoration. It was aimed at creating awareness among stakeholders to take suitable steps to ensure sustainable tourism both for economic growth and also for the conservation and sustained use of the biodiversity.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice Chancellor Central University of Kashmir Prof Mehraj ud Din said the uniqueness in climate, terrain and culture has motivated eco-tourists to experience what the region has to offer.
"Since tourism is flourishing here, the concept of home stays, eco-tourism, camping sites and living closely with the nature can be best examined and explored," said V-C CUK Prof Mehraj ud Din. He said the region has a huge potential for domestic as well as foreign tourism.
In his speech, the president of ATOAK Rauf Tramboo said that the adventure tourism products should not be allowed to operate by inexperienced and untrained people who cause damage to the biodiversity due to 'their selfish motives'.
"The registration of the Adventure Tour Operators needs to be restricted and made as per the SRO 198", he said. "It is our legal duty to safeguard them. Celebrating such events would further support the aims and objects of our Wildlife Department."
MD JKTDC and Director Tourism Mahmood Shah, who was chief guest of the function, also spoke on the occasion. Eminent academicians, biologists, botanists, horticulturists, columnists, some wildlife wardens, officer in-charge wildlife SOS Aliya, Presidents of different tourism associates and students of the tourism department CUK and others also took part in the seminar.