SRINAGAR: Union Minister for Tourism and Culture and Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), G Kishan Reddy today reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of India towards the promotion Jammu and Kashmir Tourism and rich cultural heritage worldwide.
The Minister stated this while holding an interactive session with tour operators and various stakeholders associated with the tourism sector of Jammu and Kashmir along with the Department of Tourism at SKICC here.
Earlier today morning, Reddy arrived here as part of GoI’s public outreach programme to J&K. On his arrival, the Minister visited the Tourist Facilitation Centre and J&K Tourism Information Centre.
During his interaction with different tourism players from Kashmir, Reddy discussed various avenues pertinent to tourism in the region of J&K and highlighted the importance of promotion and campaigning of J&K as a tourism destination in India and across the globe, and said that the Central Government will do everything in their domain to brand the region as an international tourist destination.
During the session, different stakeholders including tourist trade and travel, houseboat association, shikarawalas, hoteliers among others put forth their demands and issues before the Minister.
Among other issues, the tourism stakeholders sought direct flights from different cities of the country including Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai to Srinagar. They also demanded insurance cover in case of losses, development of new and virgin tourist destinations, better mobile connectivity at tourism places, renovation of old hotels at tourism destinations like Pahalgam, Gulmarg among others.
The Minister gave a patient hearing to the tourism stakeholders and assured them that all their genuine issues would be taken up at the Central Government level for early resolution.
While speaking on the occasion, Mr Reddy said that the Central Government is doing every bit to bring J&K back on the tourism map and make it the number one tourist destination among travelers, tourists, visitors once again.
He informed the meeting that the Government of India along with UT government is putting in serious efforts to bring Mughal Gardens of J&K on UNESCO Heritage map so that these places would get international recognition to help in increasing tourist footfall from other countries.
He said that J&K being a tourism state remains top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who always pushes his Cabinet for the development of J&K.
Earlier, the Minister presided over a meeting with the Department of Tourism J&K, J&K Academy of Arts, Culture & Languages, Department of Archives, Archeology & Museums, Archeological Survey of India, heads of different development authorities and other concerned.
The Minister reviewed the progress of tourism development projects supported by the Union Government for the UT.
The meeting was attended by Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Baseer Ahmad Khan; Additional Director General at Ministry of Tourism, GoI, Rupinder Brar; Secretary Tourism & Culture, Sarmad Hafeez, Secretary Director, Archives, Archaeology, and Museums, Rahul Pandey; Director Tourism Kashmir, Dr GN Itoo, officers from ASI, and other concerned.
On the occasion, Secretary Tourism & Culture gave a detailed presentation and presented an overview of the Tourism scenario in the UT.
The Minister was informed about the different activities and projects being carried out in the region and the initiative taken with respect to the promotion of J&K tourism.
It was told that in the past three years many tourism festivals and events besides 2nd Edition of Khelo India Games were held at Gulmarg and wide promotion campaign is also being carried out in different parts of the country.
A detailed presentation was also given over the celebrations of 75 years of independence and in this regard, an Iconic Week celebration is being organized in both the divisions of J&K where myriad activities would be held to showcase J&K’s rich culture, heritage, food, music etc.
On the occasion, the Minister also e-inaugurated various developmental tourism projects which include 10 bedroom tourist complex at Verinag, Apple resort at Ladoora Rafiabad, wayside amenities at Awantipora among others.
Also, Conservation Architect & Historic Building consultant, Abha Narain Lambah gave a detailed presentation over the preparation of nomination dossier for listing of Mughal Gardens of Kashmir on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
While appreciating the J&K tourism for their work done during Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister said that the UT has done a lot better than other States and UTs during the pandemic. He said J&K is progressing and moving in the right direction and Union Government is supporting the UT in every respect to take the region on uniform prosperity with rest of India.
Later, the Minster had an interaction with students of various Govt-run- Schools at Royal Springs Golf Course, who were trained in golf by The Golf Club of Kashmir.
He said Kashmir is a favorite golfing spot for tourists and the golfers from around the world and the local youth should get maximum benefit from the beautiful golfing destinations.
He also urged the students to focus in one sport and be expert and excel and bring glory to their areas, state and country alike in the sports arena.
On the occasion, the Minister also distributed certificates among the students who completed their training courses.
Meanwhile, the Minister also flagged off Dachigam Foothills Mountain Biking Expedition from the gate of Harwan Garden.
Later, the Minister also interacted with the members of District Development Council, Block Development Council and Panchayat Raj Institutions of District Srinagar who also put forth their issues and grievances before the Minister.
The elected representatives demanded to announce a Development Authority for Harwan Block of Srinagar which houses world-famed Mughal Gardens, degree College, a hospital in the area, playground, and other tourism related facilities.
The members said that the area has a huge tourism potential as the area possesses traditional trekking routes to central and southern parts of Kashmir which can give a fillip to tourism and subsequently generate employment in the area.
While addressing the members, the Minister said J&K has a three-tier Panchayati Raj System in place due to the honest efforts of PM Modi who wants to empower the grassroot democracy in the country.
He said that J&K is one of the shining example in whole of India where the three-tier Panchayati Raj system is working successfully and people themselves are identifying, executing and monitoring works at level, block and district level.
Praising the ‘Back to Village’ programme in J&K, Mr Reddy said that earlier people used to visit different offices and run pillar-to-post to get their grievances addressed but now the whole administration is at their doorsteps to get their issues resolved promptly.
He added that J&K is now reaping benefits like the rest of India with all the centrally sponsored schemes and other initiatives and is playing an important part in the overall development and progress of the whole country.
Later in the evening, the Minister also visited Nishat and Chashma Shahi Mughal Gardens.