Srinagar, Aug 13: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is poised to become India's most prosperous and highest foreign exchange earner if all the efforts to exploit its tourism potential proceed on time.
Encouraged by the unprecedented rush of tourists, the government has expanded its tourism policy not to leave out any area of seemingly least tourism importance.
No visitor can contest the description of Kashmir as the paradise on earth-its tall snow-clad mountains, tall swinging chinars, birds, animals, flowers, trees laden with fruits and, above all, its tall and beautiful people endowed with talent and grace.
The present government believes Kashmir has no spot, howsoever neglected hitherto, which is without tourism potential. It has earmarked four such areas for this purpose. It includes the farm sector which, perhaps, nowhere in the world is included among tourist attractions. It is a new idea which certainly will attract tourists - depends on how the publicity material is designed for different target countries.
Eco-tourism is another area. It is a very wide area. It will include the whole economic activity by which the Kashmiris live. The eco-tourism will show tourists their talent for carving and designing motifs on wood, woollens, carpets and warm clothes- all reflecting their inner soul.
Tourists can also see that a Kashmiri is not only a talented artiste but also a friendly soft-spoken, suave and persuasive salesman.
The government proposes to include Wildlife among tourist attractions.
Also will be included tribal life. This part of life in Kashmir is seldom (or never) talked about. Tourists have shown great interest in mountain biking, para-gliding, hot-air balloon, riders, river rafting, tracking and camping. This has inspired the government to provide for more adventure tourism and equipment needed.
To attract more and more tourists the government has prepared a scheme to scout for hitherto undiscovered areas of tourist interest. Tourism festivals in health resorts are among these. They have proved a great success in terms of tourist inflow from abroad and from within the country.
The Tourism Department has prepared different tourist circuits with emphasis on adventure tourism, tracking activities, pilgrimage spots and others. It includes the participation of villages in the tourism programmes.
Recently, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha declared open a Jammu and Kashmir Tourist village network under Mission Youth. This programme aims at turning 75 villages of the Union Territory into tourist villages. These villages are famous for their history, cultural life and beauty.
The success of all the above tourism programmes greatly depends on the participation of youth who are sure to gain from them.
Sinha said all these tourism programmes would be strengthened with the participation of the youth.
These programmes will generate job opportunities for boys and girls.
But indirect benefits to the economy of Jammu and Kashmir will be massive.
Each individual and each household, which is engaged in handicraft in villages, is going to benefit greatly. There will be jobs for those who want to take advantage of these developments.