Tourism entrepreneurship in Kashmir

Given the opportunities and avenues in this sector, if the same is taken up seriously, Kashmir being the paradise on earth, the unemployment in the valley can be mitigated to a large extent.
Tourism entrepreneurship in Kashmir
GK Photo

In Kashmir the term entrepreneurship has become a buzzword from quite a long time now. The government and policymakers have been trying their best to encourage startups. The entrepreneurship for long has been projected as a weapon to eradicate the ever-increasing problem of unemployment in the country and to arrest this problem the authorities have been rolling out state-wise startup policies, providing subsidies to the micro small & medium enterprises (MSMEs). The most recent is the 59-minute addressal of the loan applications for MSME's upto Rs 1 crore, in addition to, relaxed labour laws and easier compliance with the environment laws. At the state level, one of the biggest achievements with regards to entrepreneurship has been the roll out of J&K Startup Policy- 2018 to nurture the budding entrepreneurs. The startup policy has standardised the processes and has added clarity to the balue chain of the businesses, thereby helping in creating a conducive eco-system in the state.

 The state of J&K being widely acknowledged for its tourism potential provides massive entrepreneurial opportunities in the sector which majorly have remained untapped for past many decades. The tourism sector being an amalgamation of many allied sectors provides huge opportunities with regards to hospitality, travel and trade agencies, event management, wedding planning, travel writings and travelogues, handicrafts, restauranteering etc. Besides these conventional tourism entrepreneurial opportunities, there are visible virgin areas that need to be explored and made commercially viable viz photographic safaris, walking trails, bird watching tours, film industry out-fitters, story-telling theatres etc which are quiet popular in the Tourism scenarios of the European culture.

In connection with enhancing awareness about various tourism entrepreneurial opportunities, the department of Tourism Studies, Central University of Kashmir conducted a two-day Tourism Entrepreneurship Summit at its Nowgam Campus on 1-2 November, 2018. The objective of the summit was to bring together all the prominent industry experts and entrepreneurs from different fields of tourism at one place, so that an effective industry-academia exchange occurs, mutually benefiting both the industry as well as the students of the varsity. The summit aimed to help in encouraging tourism entrepreneurial culture among the students of the department. The summit was presided over by Prof. Mehraj-u-din Mir, Vice Chancellor, Central University of Kashmir who in the inaugural of the Summit spoke at length about the significance of conducting the Summit in the present day and age. The Summit was spread over four technical sessions each themed separately on the four major allied sectors of Tourism in the Valley i.e Hospitality, Travel & Trade agencies, Restauranteering, and Event Management & Travel Writing.

The Summit was attended by prominent entrepreneurs and experts of the valley. Besides the keynote address was delivered by Arif Ahmad Khan, Regional Coordinator, JKEDI and the sessions were chaired by Mr Saleem Beg, Director, INTACH (JK Chapter) and Prof, Syed Fayyaz Ahmad, Head & Dean, Tourism Studies, Central University of Kashmir.

 Besides, the success stories of the valley entrepreneurs were cherished by the students of the Varsity which inspired and encouraged them to take up their own ventures. Earlier in the day, the Vice Chancellor felicitated the successful entrepreneurs of the Valley at the Inaugural which also included two student ventures of the University.

Given the opportunities and avenues in this sector, if the same is taken up seriously, Kashmir being the paradise on earth, the unemployment in the valley can be mitigated to a large extent.

 The writer is working as assistant professor in the department of tourism studies at CUK

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