JAMMU, SEPTEMBER 29: Asking Tourism Development Authorities to promote niche tourism activities in their respective areas, Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, Thursday called for a fresh roadmap to strengthen the travel and tourism industry in the state by integrating leisure, adventure, heritage and pilgrim tourism.
The Chief Minister made these remarks here while chairing a meeting to review the functioning of Tourism Development Authorities of Jammu province.
Also present in the meeting were Minister of State for Education, Technical Education, Culture, Tourism, Horticulture, Floriculture and Parks, Priya Sethi, Secretary Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah, MD JKTDC, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, Director Tourism, Jammu, Sushma Chauhan, Director Floriculture, Jammu and CEOs of Tourism Development Authorities of Jammu province, besides other senior officers of the Tourism Department.
In line with Government’s vision of making Jammu an independent tourist destination, the Chief Minister said that Jammu region has huge potential in heritage, adventure and border tourism. Tourism department needs to focus on creation of tourism-based infrastructure that helps in attracting tourists to the area and are also important from tourism promotion point of view, Ms Mehbooba said.
The Chief Minister noted that niche tourism infrastructure needs to be developed keeping in mind its relevance to the area, without disturbing the natural essence of a place and its surrounding ecology. She asked the concerned to come up with suggestions and ideas to develop such niche locations to attract more tourists viz tented accommodation, thatched huts etc that may give tourists a feel of natural surroundings, at the same time avoiding solid concrete structures at such tourist destinations. She added that the existing concrete structures need to be properly camouflaged to blend with the local environs.
The Chief Minister underscored the importance of identifying at least one niche tourist activity like paragliding, trekking, camping, festivals, etc under each tourism development authority which can be developed, promoted, publicized and marketed to achieve immediate results in terms of maximum tourist footfall in the area.
Highlighting various areas of the region that are apt for development of adventure tourism, the Chief Minister called for introduction of adventures like mountain biking in certain areas viz Sanasar which can prove to be major tourist attraction.
The Chief Minister was informed that introduction of All Terrain Biking (ATB) is being considered in the Sanasar area. It was informed that organization of a kite festival on lines of the one organized in Gujarat is also under consideration which shall also help attract tourists to Sanasar.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister also sought details with regard to development of heritage sites like Chingus Fort and Old Fort Complex at Poonch by taking up landscaping etc. She also called for improving facilities at Chakan da Bagh to attract tourists and promote border tourism. With regard to promotion of tourism in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah areas, the Chief Minister called for development of trekking routes and base camp sites in order to attract more young tourists towards adventure tourism.
The Chief Minister also stressed on encouraging involvement of locals in development of tourism in areas like Shafapani and Tattapani where people usually opt for paying guest type of accommodation.
The Chief Minister directed the Tourism Department to explore more areas with tourism potential and to come up with innovative packages to promote tourism in the area by attracting tourists belonging to different age groups. She also asked Dr Shahid Iqbal who also holds the charge of Director Information to explore avenues of convergence with Information Department to help promote tourism in the state, viz packages, festivals, destinations etc.
While taking the review, the Chief Minister was apprised on the status of various key projects under tourism sector in the region. It was informed that Baitul Zaireen at Shahdara Sharief, Food Craft Institute at Jagti Dammi, Nagrota, TRC at Jia Potha, Akhnoor and Dera Baba, Transit Camp at Samba/Kathua, Jammu Tawi Golf Course, Sidhra, TRC Bani and Yatra Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar are some of the major projects which have either been completed or are in the advanced stage of completion.
It was given out in the meeting that under Swadesh Darshan Scheme to develop theme based tourist circuits on the principals of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability main initiatives include construction of amusement water-park near Sidhra Golf Course, in Jammu, development of Suchetgarh border tourism and world class tourist amenities with smart solar illumination, tourist pathways and solid waste management at Katra.
During the meeting the Chief Minister was also given an update on the projects taken up under PMDP Phase I and the process for identification of projects under Phase II, with focus on highlighting unexplored tourist destinations, upgradation of tourist facilities at prime tourist locations and inclusion of latest trend in the field of tourism such as development of wayside facilities along highways under the concept of Highway Tourism.
Also spelt out in the meeting were various initiatives taken under advertisement and publicity to promote tourism in the region including representation of State across the country in metropolitan and mega cities (TTF, IITM, ITM, OTM, GITB, exhibitions etc.), organizing and sponsoring of road shows, media and travel trade meets, promotional advertisement in print & electronic media, organizing and sponsoring of local festivals/events across the province and incentive package for promotion of adventure tourism.
CEOs of different Tourism Development Authorities presented a brief of various initiative taken and works executed under tourism sector in their respective areas.