ashne Gurez, the festival to showcase the Gurez valley for all its recreational and adventure potential took off to a colourful start here today.
The festival was thrown open by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, P K Pole.
Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmad and Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Dr. G N Itoo, senior Police and Army officers, members of PRIs and a large number of tourists and local people were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir said the Government intends to develop Gurez at par with other tourist destinations in Kashmir. He said the Gurez valley has huge potential to attract tourists which needs to be fully exploited.
The Divisional Commissioner appealed youth of Gurez to come forward and set up their tourism units which would give boost to local economy.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Dr. G N Itoo said the Department has already placed Gurez, given its enormous tourism potential, on the promotional agenda and holding of the present festival is one of the components of this promotional scheme.
Deputy Commissioner, Bandipora, Dr. Owais in his address said the successful conduct of the festival was the result of close coordination between Tourism Department, district administration, Police and Army. He hoped with this coordination in future, Gurez would become a favourite tourist destination.
The festival has been conceived by the Department of Tourism in collaboration with District administration, Police and Army to showcase the adventure and recreational potential of Gurez in terms of trekking, camping, mountaineering, cycling etc. and to attract tourists to spend few days in the picturesque valley.
During the festival, events like car rally, trekking, marathon, cycling, painting competition, self defence, local sports like kabaddi besides cultural activities are being held.
During the inaugural session, around 15 Departments had put up their stalls displaying the products generated locally. Local hotel owners had also put up their stalls depicting their services including food provided by them. A special feature of the festival was presentation of cultural items by various local groups particularly in Sheena, Dardi, Pahari and other local dielectric.
Local people in large numbers and many visiting tourists visited the stalls and evinced keen interest in the local products put on display.
Earlier on his arrival, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir was given a traditional reception at the venue. He flagged off a contingent of students for the marathon. He also released a brochure depicting the tourism potential, recreational avenues and critical information about the place. He also distributed certificates among the youth who were trained at the local ITI in various hospitality trades.
Last evening a cultural programme was held at TRC, Dawar where local youth presented scintillating performances which were appreciated by the audience comprising many visiting tourists. The best performers were felicitated on the occasion.
On the sidelines of the festival, Director, Tourism, Kashmir met several deputations of local stakeholders and youth who intended to set up their units.
The Director Tourism impressed upon them to come forward and assured all possible support from the Department.