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J&K govt announces winter carnival, chopper services to Bhaderwah

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Encouraged by the heavy influx of tourists to the Bhaderwah town this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government has announced a winter carnival and chopper services to promote the mountainous resort in Jammu region. “The government has decided to hold winter carnival at Bhaderwah to promote it as major tourist destination of the state,” said Minister of State for Tourism Priya Sethi while inaugurating the two-day tourism-cum-cultural festival in the town in Doda district. She said the winter carnival would be held on the pattern of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Patnitop resorts to boost tourist footfall. Praising the natural beauty of Bhaderwah – popular as “mini Kashmir” – the minister said a large number of tourists have been diverted this year towards this unexplored place due to the efforts and initiatives taken up by the government.

“It is highly encouraging to note that the area has witnessed record tourist footfall of more than four lakh – the highest ever figure and is expected to go much beyond by the end of this year,” she said. The minister asked the tourism department to give wider publicity to the area to attract the tourists from across the country. She laid stress on better connectivity, tourism infrastructure and development of hospitality sector for boosting the tourism to benefit the local stakeholders.

“This valley varied tourism potential. There is huge scope for adventure tourism, pilgrimage tourism, winter sports. To explore this potential, steps will be taken to divert the pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi, Amarnath and other parts of the state to this unexplored valley,” she said. Sethi also assured the people that the area will be soon provided air connectivity on the pattern of other districts as the union aviation ministry was providing attractive incentives for regional air connectivity all over India.

She directed the district administration to submit a comprehensive plan envisaging the requirements for starting the service. “Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is keen to see Bhaderwah emerging as a major tourist destination and she has directed state tourism ministry to explore all the possibilities for tapping its potential to the full. Mehbooba has also assured to sanction INR 50 crore for various tourism projects to develop the Bhaderwah circuit,” the minister said, adding that the government is also mulling to rope in private players through public-private partnership mode to develop and strengthen hospitality sector and tap the huge tourism potential of Chenab region.

“Special stress has been laid on promoting Chamba (Himachal Pradesh)-Bhaderwah road as an alternate connectivity to the state as it will surely increase the tourist footfall in the region,” she said. Asserting that tourism is the backbone of the state’s economy, Sethi said Prime Minister Narindra Modi has sanctioned INR 2,000 crore for boosting this lucrative industry in the state and INR 400 crore has already been released for the purpose.