Centre To Promote Kashmir As World Winter Destination: Mufti
26 December 2003
The Times of India
Gulmarg: Celebrating one year of revival of Kashmir Tourism that coincided with Christmas, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed today announced that the state is poised for another phase of tourism with the Central government agreeing to promote Kashmir abroad as world winter destination. Talking to tour operators from different parts of country and media persons at world famous tourist resort of Gulmarg, a confident and visibly happy Mufti Sayeed said that the Central government would invite a delegation of reputed travel trade operators to India with Kashmir specific on familiarization tour. Foreign tourists are normally looking for winter destinations and Kashmir is well suited to meet their requirements. He said the government would formulate a strategy to motivate international tour operators for organizing foreign tourist groups to Kashmir which is as safe as any other destination in the world. Mufti Sayeed said that during his recent visit to London he had taken up with influential members of parliament belonging to all parties, to withdraw adverse travel advisories issued by UK and other countries on visit of their nationals to Kashmir . He said foreign tourists are still visiting Kashmir despite these advisories and they find the place as fascinating and safe as other places. He said Central government efforts to woo foreign tourist to India with Kashmir specific destination, would definitely help in increasing flow of tourists to the State. He sounded quite optimistic going by the success on tourism front during last one year. The Chief Minister referred to a detailed and purposeful interaction he had with a group of sixty tour operators of various metropolitan cities who were invited to celebrate successful one year of tourism and said that the government has taken note of some of their very useful suggestions to give a further fillip to tourism in Jammu and Kashmir . Mufti Sayeed said that a core group of travel agents would be set up with Joint Secretary cum Managing Director ITDC in the Union Ministry of Tourism Amitab Kant as coordinator. This group will meet on a fixed periodicity preferably on fortnight basis, to monitor the efforts on organizing tourist groups to Jammu and Kashmir . He recalled that his government had launched J & K tourism revival on Christmas last year when about 25 tour operators from the national capital were invited to familiarize with ground situation and since then tourism department did not look behind. The Chief Minister along with his Tourism Minister visited Mumbai, Banglore, Hyderabad , Chennai, Kolkata and interacted with people from travel trade and motivated them to promote tourism. The private sector has been very cooperative and they on visit to the valley, found situation quite favourable for promotion of tourism. Referring to another decision taken with tour operators during interaction is to organize tours of groups of school students from all over the country to J and K. He said it is very essential to expose the young mind of the country to the fascinating and captivating environment of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the valley in particular. Among those present in the interaction were Minister for Tourism and Urban Development, Ghulam Hassan Mir, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, Minister of State for Tourism, G. A Mir, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Iqbal Khandey and Secretary Tourism Najam-u- Saqib. Speaking on the occasion, Joint Secretary in Union Ministry of Tourism Amitab said that the Central government is already implementing Rs. 30 crore package for promotion of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir . He said the government have also sanctioned Rs. 7.20 crore for completion of building complex of Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering at Gulmarg for which the Jammu and Kashmir government has been insisting. He said 13 courses in skiing and mountaineering are being started in Gulmarg. The Central Government has sanctioned 8 heritage projects in the state.. He said the Central Government considers Kashmir destination safer than New York and it be its endeavor to make Kashmir as number one destination.