SUDIPTA DEV – Mumbai
With peace returning to Jammu & Kashmir and increasing interest of tourists in visiting the state, the J&K government is actively looking at attracting investments from hotel companies and other interested stakeholders for setting up hotels and resorts in key tourism locations in the state. “For hotels we do not have an investment climate internally,” acknowledged Talat Parvez, director, Jammu & Kashmir Tourism. He mentioned that they are trying to develop hotels through franchise model. “We are going ahead with PPP model also,” stated Parvez, adding that, the ITC Hotel Group is interested in setting up properties in J&K. Once demand goes up for hotels due to increase in influx of tourists, he is positive that more properties will come up.
Parvez asserted that there is a great opportunity for investors to set up hotels in the state taking into consideration the growth in tourism. Of the 12 million tourists who visited the state last year 10 million went to Katra and Vaishno Devi. The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa in Gulmarg has brought in an investment of Rs 150 crore. According to Parvez, another company is interested in investing Rs 500 crore for a resort.
The Lalit Grand Palace and Vivanta by Taj Dal View are two of the leading hotels in Srinagar. According to Parvez, tourism had contributed in bringing in Rs 1000 crore to the state directly, and Rs 2000 crore indirectly (for example through horticulture, etc). Almost 16 to 20 per cent of tourists who visited the state are from Gujarat. The other important states for J&K in terms of tourists are Maharashtra and West Bengal.
The state has also witnessed an increase in number of tourists from overseas. “A significant number of tourists come from European countries like Italy, France and Germany,” stated Parvez, adding that, of this almost 50,000 foreign visitors came to the Kashmir Valley and 65,000 visited Ladakh last year.
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