STEENA JOY – Mumbai
J&K Tourism is planning to push Kashmir as an adventure tourism destination. Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, J&K tourism minister, said, “Domestic tourists do come to the Valley to see the scenic beauty of Kashmir. But international tourists and young domestic tourists now want to also indulge in adventure activities. This year the Kashmir Festival was organised for this very purpose with the main focus on adventure activities. We organised rafting expeditions, paragliding events, cycling, skating, kayaking, trekking and other events during the festival. Our aim is to make Kashmir an adventure tourism destination. We will like to participate in travel marts, travel festivals at national and international levels so as to promote Kashmir as destination for adventure activities among the tourism trade.”
Recently, the J&K Bank Mughal Rally, an annual motorsport race, ran its fourth edition, with about 120 rallyists from various parts of the country. The third season of the JK Racing Series, re-christened Formula BMW, may hold its third round on the smooth, wide road skirting the fantastic Dal Lake while Formula BMW is slated in Srinagar in the first week of September.
Commenting on the infrastructural development needed to place Kashmir as a top destination on the global map, Mir agreed that there is a lot that needs to be done. “We have improved a lot but there is scope for doing more. We have limited accommodation when it comes to high end tourists. We need to look into this issue. Similarly we have less number of hotels of international standard. However, investors are now showing keen interest in developing the tourist infrastructure in Kashmir due to which a few five-star hotels have come up in the last couple of years and many more are in the pipeline in the private sector, “ he informed.
The ministry is also promoting new tourist spots in the Valley. “We are already beyond the Dal Lake. We are now seeing tourists at other destinations as well. The ministry will be emphasising on virgin areas like Dodpathri, Lolab Bhangus and Yousmarg besides other destinations to be explored as potential tourist destinations with huge infrastructure,” revealed the state tourism minister.