Describing tourism as one of the most rapidly-growing sectors in the world and backbone of J&K’s economy, the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Saturday called for harnessing the tourism potential of the State by providing greater accessibility to new destinations and creating high-end infrastructure at existing ones so that a new class of visitors is attracted to the State.
The Chief Minister said this while taking a detailed review of the functioning of Tourism Development Authorities (TDAs) of Kashmir and J&K Cable Car Corporation, at Banquet Hall, here today. MD, J&K SCCC and CEOs of Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Yusmarg, Aharbal, Verinag, Kokernag and Lolab TDAs gave power-point presentations to the Chief Minister on the functioning of their respective departments.
Unveiling his strategy for the next six years for increasing footfall of visitors to the State from other parts of the country and abroad, the Chief Minister took a series of decisions which include laying of golf courses at Sonamarg and Yusmarg, commencement of work on Ashmuqam Cable Car Project and Jammu Ropeway by removing bottlenecks, preparation of feasibility report of Cable Car Project at Yusmarg and outsourcing accommodation and sanitation in respect of all Tourism Development Authorities of the State. He also issued immediate instructions to CEOs of Gulmarg and Pahalgam TDAs to take over administrative control of their respective golf courses.
Describing accessibility as the catchword for exploiting the rich potential of leisure, adventure, pilgrim and heritage tourism in the State, the Chief Minister said aggressive marketing is the need of the hour at the national and international levels to promote J&K as an ideal tourist destination. “Our economy will improve if we succeed in attracting high-end travellers who have greater spending power which will percolate to the prime stakeholders who are the people of the State,” he said.
Laying great emphasis on keeping the health resorts neat and clean and ensuring regular power and water supply in the jurisdictions of all Development Authorities, the Chief Minister called for adopting the Ring-and-Cluster Approach in construction of tourist accommodation at all the resorts without disturbing the Bowls and the surrounding environment. “We will talk to the Forest Department for a more coordinated effort in increasing the carrying capacity at these resorts,” he said and added that amusement parks, which are a major attraction for children, along with other connected paraphernalia should also be created to increase the flow of tourists.
The Chief Minister issued immediate directions to major Tourism Development Authorities for procuring garbage dumpers to address the issue of piling of waste within the Resort Bowls for its proper scientific disposal. Expressing concern over establishment of TRCs even at places where flow of tourists is very low, the Chief Minister asked all CEOs to concentrate on focusing and developing a “Single Destination Concept” in their Development Authorities.
Laying emphasis on making tourism inclusive by involving villagers living within the Notified Areas of TDAs as equal partners in promotion of tourism, the Chief Minister issued directions for engaging a top architect who will give the concept of a Model Guest House across all TDAs for replication. He also directed the CEOs to facilitate those villagers living in the notified areas who apply for permission for construction of their residential houses
The Chief Minister also directed the Commissioner/Secretary, Tourism, to immediately flag the issue of laying of golf courses at Sonamarg and Yusmarg resorts, keeping in view the ideal topography and landscape available at both the resorts.
The Chief Minister asked the Commissioner/Secretary Tourism to provide a dedicated uninterrupted power supply to the Pahalgam resort by de-linking it from the main grid so that people visiting the place are not deprived from this basic necessity. “This will also facilitate the pilgrims who visit the place during the Amarnath Yatra,” he said while calling for immediate outsourcing of Pahalgam Shopping Complex comprising 80 shops.
For Verinag, the Chief Minister passed instructions for developing a garden park and identification of land for establishment of an amusement park in the vicinity of the resort.
The Chief Minister stated that he will take a review of Jammu-based Tourism Development Authorities later this month.
Principal Secretary, Planning & Development, B. R. Sharma, Commissioner/Secretary, Tourism & Culture, Shailendra Kumar, MD, JKTDC, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Deputy Commissioners of Baramulla, Anantnag, Kupwara and Kulgam, besides the CEOs of Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yusmarg, Aharbal, Kokernag, Verinag and Lolab-Bangus Development Authorities attended the meeting.