Golf Diplomacy: Kashmir Hosts 22 Foreign Envoys

2 November 2009

Srinagar: Aiming to convey to the world that Jammu and Kashmir is a safe tourist destination, the state government hosted ambassadors of 22 countries for a friendly golf championship on the banks of the Dal Lake. The envoys who participated in the Oct 31-Nov 1 event were given an impressive farewell at a luxurious hotel Monday. Ministers and officials expressed the hope that the guests would play ambassadors for the beauty of Kashmir and help in restoring tourism in the terror-torn state. Tourism has been one of the worst affected sectors in the separatist insurgency. The visiting dignitaries were 'stunned by the beauty of the valley', an official said in a statement. The Autumn Golf Championship has been organised at the 18 hole Royal Springs on the foothills of Zabarwan and the banks of the Dal Lake. This famed international level course was designed by Robert Trent Jones II from California. The government has initiated a 'new campaign to attract foreign tourists to the valley as they used to two decades ago', Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said. He said the visit of the ambassadors to the Kashmir Valley 'is a message to the world that Kashmir tourism is back on the track and people can visit this place without any inhibition'. They 'can convey their personal feelings to billions of people of their countries about our tourism and hospitality', he said, at the late-night function. Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam said: 'They will become our ambassadors when they return to their countries and convey the message to their people that Kashmir tourism is open to all without any problem.' The envoys were from the Philippines, Malawi, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Peru, South Africa, Taiwan, Morocco, Colombia and Bangladesh.