Srinagar: In the first half of this year, 1.05 crore tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), signalling a growth in the UT's tourism industry.
According to the MHA's response in Parliament, in the first six months (January to June) of the calendar year 2022, the number of tourists grew from 41267 in the year 2020 to 1.05 crore.
"The UT of J&K has experienced a steady stream of tourists throughout the year, mostly high-end visitors who value receiving high-quality services. The local population, even those living in remote areas of the UT, has profited both directly and indirectly from this huge number of tourists."
The MHA also reported that, in addition to the influx of tourists, the hospitality industry in J&K has received a staggering Rs 248 crore in private investment over the past three years.
"As per the information provided by the Department of Industries and Commerce, J&K, Private Investment to the tune of Rs.248.86 crores has been made in the Tourism sector during the last three years."
"The UT of J&K has seen tourist flow in all the seasons during the period and that too high-end tourists who have a good experience of quality services."
"This high influx of tourists has, directly and indirectly, benefited the local populace including the people living in far-flung areas of the UT and it has resulted in huge investment in the Tourism sector be it the hotels, guest houses, house boats, home stays or other Tourism services," reads the reply.
Besides the J&K Government has also notified Tourism Policy 2020 which provides for various incentives in the Tourism sector.
J&K Tourism Department has also notified Home Stay Policy/Guidelines 2022 with the aim to achieve de-centralization of benefits of tourism to a large number of people to achieve a multiplier effect on the economy and offer several benefits like employment generation, increased sale in traditional craft/skill, etc. to ensure that the economic benefits reach local people by making more accommodation rooms available and reducing the price-point for tourists.
Additionally, the MHA's reply says that in order to improve various pilgrimage sites and work at tourist destinations across the UT of J&K and to stimulate the tourism-related activities and economy in the UT of J&K, numerous infrastructure development projects under the UT sector Capex Budget and Centrally sponsored scheme PMDP/PRASAD with a total allocation of Rs.683.45 crores were taken up over the last three years.
Since the tourism sector is predominantly a private-driven initiative, many stakeholders have come forward to make investments by way of making new hotels, paying guest houses, lodges, travel agencies, adventure activities, tenting and so on, it adds.
The designated authority in the Tourism Department registers various hotels, guesthouses, and other service providers in accordance with the terms of the J&K Tourist Trade Act 1978. An examination of the registration data offers a preliminary summary of the investments made in various tourism-related services. In the hospitality industry, more than 1500 rooms have been registered since 2019 in addition to the registration of other service providers, and many more are in the process of registration, according to the reply.
"Further to maintain the traditional Houseboats and Shikaras, J&K Govt. has decided to provide concessional timber to the owners of these vessels which have further encouraged these stakeholders to make their own investment to upgrade their vessels to the highest standard."