'Dal Lake identity of Kashmir tourism'

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, authorities on Sunday described Dal Lake as the identity of Kashmir tourism, saying the water body has been the central point of the vital economic sector since decades.

While programmes were held across Kashmir to celebrate the Day, Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir held the main function at Nehru Park here. A number of events like Shikara race, demonstration of Kayaking, Canoeing sports including canoe slalom, canoe sprint and motorboat were held during the function. Secretary, Youth Services and Sports and Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez presided over the function.

He assured tourism stakeholders that the department was committed to promote the sector in a big way in the coming times. Terming Dal Lake as the identity of Kashmir and its tourism, Hafeez said the water body has been the central point of Kashmir tourism since centuries. Referring to the present COVID crisis, the Secretary said the need has been felt of a responsible tourism in the coming times in terms of observance of SOPs or arranging any other related facilities. “We will ensure that all SOP guidelines are maintained while allowing tourism activities,” he said and appealed all stakeholders to adhere to COVID protocols.

On the occasion, Hafeez flagged off a Shikara race in the Dal. Wearing traditional attire (Pheran), over 50 boatmen participated in the race giving Dal Lake a festive early morning look. Later he also distributed prizes among the winners.

Director Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani while speaking on the occasion said the department has already started tourism promotional campaigns to send a message that Kashmir was open for tourists. Joint Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Tabassum Shafat Kamili and other senior officers of the department, officers from Disaster Management Department, J&K Cultural Academy, NDRF & SDRF and representatives of Water Sports Association were present on the occasion.

President, Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) Farooq A Kuthoo, representatives of Houseboat Owners Association and Shikara Associations and others were also present and spoke on the occasion. An important attraction of the event was a presentation of Kashmiri music by renowned artists and surfing event by two young water sportspersons. Earlier in the day, the Secretary Tourism also flagged off a rally of Mountain Bikers at TRC from Srinagar to Doodpathri. Mountain Bikers drove to Doodpathri to mark the Day. The highlight of the rally was the participation of 84-year cyclist, Ghulam Rasool who had come with all enthusiasm and determination to attend the event.

Meanwhile, the SKICC also celebrated the Day while adhering to the COVID protocol norms. On the Directions of Secretary Tourism, a Lazer Show and musical fountain was operated in the back lawns which was witnessed by people from all strata particularly tourism, trade and hospitality sectors. Director SKICC, Bakshi Javid Humayun termed the event as good omen to open up the tourism sector particularly MICE Tourism post COVID pandemic in Kashmir.

The Director also attended a national level webinar which was conducted under aegis of Tourism department, government of India in which he highlighted the MICE potential of Kashmir.