The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta Monday chaired a meeting to review various activities being undertaken by the Tourism Department to highlight and promote new tourist destinations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Principal Secretary, Public Works (R&B) Department, Administrative Secretary, Tourism Department along with MD, JKTDC, Directors Tourism Jammu and Kashmir, Director, Culture Department, and concerned officers of the Department participated in the meeting.
It was informed that the tourism in Jammu and Kashmir has crossed the mark of highest tourist footfall in November when 1,27,605 tourists visited the Union territory in a single month. Moreover, to attract local and foreign tourists to the UT, the Tourism Department is organizing various roadshows across major cities of the country and raising awareness on the tourism-related events, activities, and destinations in Jammu and Kashmir. These cities include Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, and Lucknow.
It was further informed that as a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mohatsav, the Department organized an iconic week celebration in the last week of October 2021, which included performances on Hafiz Nagma, Kalam-e-Khusroo, Kalam-e-Baba Fareed, Qawwali, Baul Sufi folk, Darvish Sufi dance, and Haziri Kathak, besides literary seminar on Sufism and exhibition of local arts, calligraphy, Sufi traditions, and houseboat festival.
To celebrate 75 years of Independence, the Department is organizing 75 tourism festivals to promote 75 off-beat destinations. These destinations will be developed with proper infrastructure and requisite facilities to tap their tourism potential in collaboration with locals, youth clubs, and Panchayati Raj Institutions. The festivals organized so far are- Gurez festival, Monsoon festival, Patnitop & Kashmir, Lolab festival, Wular festival, Aharbal festival, Tosamaidan festival, and Verinag festival.
The Chief Secretary asked the Tourism Department to promote 75 new tourist places by developing comprehensive facilities in an integrated manner having adequate provisions of recreational activities, eateries, and restrooms.
Dr. Mehta asked the Department to preserve, restore, and promote the cultural and architectural heritage of Jammu and Kashmir. He advised the Department to raise awareness about these places by organizing dedicated travel, trekking-expeditions, mountain bike adventures, and stays around the identified sites. He advised the Department to promote tourism cooperatives for comprehensive tourism development through collective efforts of locals, youth, PRIs through Department-sponsored training, capacity-building, and handholding.
In the winter months, the Department will further organize the Jammu festival, white water rafting championship, Christmas carnival, Winter Carnival, Gulmarg snow festival, Lohri festival, Mata Vaishno Devi Sangeet Sammelan, and several others, as a part of its calendar of activities under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The Department celebrated International Mountain Day on 11th December under the theme ‘Sustainable Mountain Tourism’ through several activities including a painting competition and exhibition, wall climbing event at Nowgam, Mountain biking expedition, and inauguration of Paragliding season.
The Chief Secretary asked the Department to actively promote wall and rock climbing sport throughout the Union territory, as there exists a huge potential on this account. He impressed upon the Department to strive for observing the most vibrant winter season this year with a special focus on the local and domestic tourists, now that the National Highway to the Kashmir valley has been upgraded
To promote rural tourism, it was informed that specific activities will be organized along the identified rural circuits across Jammu and Kashmir, including Hokersar-Parihaspora-Gohan in Gulmarg, Waderbala, Nowgam Mawar- Lolab in Kupwara, Chari-Sharief-Doodhpathri-Yousmarg in Budgam Saderkoot Payeen- Watlab in Bandipora and, Bani- Basohli-Sarthal and Billawar Duggan in Kathua, among others.