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‘Tourism will last only if it is sustainable’

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The Valley is seeing a return of tourist traffic in recent months, comments.

Ghulam Ahmad Mir

Yes, we have been able to attract a good number of tourists to the Valley. Despite some incidents in the beginning of the year we held road-shows, interacted with the travel trade players across our trusted markets and we were successful in attracting tourists from these areas.

What kind of marketing strategy is the state government planning to bring the tourists back?

No it is a miss-norm, domestic tourists do come to the Valley to see the scenic beauty of Kashmir. But international tourists and young domestic tourists want to indulge in adventure activities. This year Kashmir festival was organised for this very purpose with main focus on adventure activities like rafting expeditions, paragliding events, cycling, skating, kayaking, trekking, etc. Our aim is to make Kashmir an adventure toiurism destination. We will like to participate in travel marts, travel festival at national and international level so as to make our presence felt.

Is point-to-point connectivity still an issue within the state?

Connectivity is no more an issue. Our state has a very good network of roads to all tourist destinations of importance. In fact some areas have excellent roads-courtesy tourism.

What kind of infrastructural development is needed to place Kashmir as a top destination?

We have improved a lot but there is scope for doing more. We have limited accommodation when it comes to the 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 during last couple of years and many more are in offing in the private sector.

Taking tourism beyond the Dal Lake.

We are already beyond Dal Lake. We are seeing tourists at other destinations as well. We 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.

How is Kashmir being promoted as an adventure tourism destination?

Our state offers almost everything to adventure lovers. We have rafting expenditions regularly, sking is going on in winters at Gulmarg, we also organise ski tournaments, trekking, routes are being once again being popularised.

How is J&K promoting the destination for MICE traffic?

We have a state of art facility for this segment at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convocation Complex (SKICC). Yes we need to have some more facilities in our state and we shall work in this direction.

Is the state promoting golf tourism in a big way?

We have some excellent golfing facilities at Royal Springs Golf Course, Pahalgam golf course has developed in a big way. We are looking forward to promote golf in a big way.

Your thoughts on sustainable tourism?

Tourism will last only if it is sustainable. Eco-tourism is an emerging field because of its sustainability. All our activities should be nature centric and we must be eco-sensitive.

How can J&K follow a sustainable tourism business model?

Our strength is our location, we are selling nature, we need to have some check and balance system in place which can manage waste generated at tourist destinations. Our activities don’t generate pollution. We can follow a sustainable model.

Can Kashmir be developed as a transit point for neighbouring countries?

This is the dream of every Kashmiri. If the hostilities between the neighbouring countries stop, we will be glad to act as a transit point.

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