Kashmir to be promoted all-season tourist destination: Mufti

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Holds deliberations with trade, tourism associations; Hoteliers announce 40% discount to tourists in off season

SRINAGAR: In a bid to promote the business and tourism-related activities in Kashmir valley, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today held detailed deliberations with all the connected stakeholders to strategize a plan for maximising the gains in the coming tourist season.

He called upon the business and tourism stakeholders to become partners in improving the indices of State’s development so that a sound edifice is laid for a better and smarter J&K.

Minister for Public Works, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Finance, Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister for IT, YS&S, Technical Education, Imran Raza Ansari, Minister of State for H&UDD, I&C, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, MLA Zadibal, Abid Ansari and MLC, Khursheed Alam, were also present.

Representatives of all leading associations affiliated to Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Hoteliers Club, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Kashmir Manufacturers & Traders Federation, Kashmir Traders’ Federation, KHARA, KHAROF, Houseboat Owners Association, TAAK, TASK, ADTOI and other associations participated in the discussions.

Addressing the representatives, Mufti Sayeed said he has directed the Divisional Administration to prioritize the development and restoration works to improve the ambience of Srinagar city, which bore the brunt of Jhelum rage in 2014 floods. He said he has taken a firsthand review with top officers to improve the delivery mechanism of basic amenities to the people and take measures to host the tourists in a big way this season.

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Asserting that a favourable atmosphere is a prerequisite for improving J&K’s economy, the Chief Minister said time has come to showcase the state as a prime tourist destination for which trade and tourism players will have to make tangible efforts. “Flood of 2014 has set us back in all parameters of growth and progress and if we do not act now, we will fall back on all indicators of prosperity,” he stated.

Mufti Sayeed said the Government is vigorously pursuing with the Centre the release of special relief package for restoring the damaged infrastructure and compensating the victims who suffered damage to their dwelling units and business enterprises. “From our own resources, we have tried to provide succour to marginal traders and destitute who had no insurance cover and were left to fend for themselves,” he added.

During the deliberations, the hoteliers’ representatives announced 40% discount in off-season, after July 15, to attract the visitors to the Valley. They thanked the Chief Minister for taking bold initiatives in establishing single window clearance system to facilitate tourism players as well as expediting preparation of master-plans for structured development of the city and resorts.

Stating that the intake capacity for high-end tourists in the valley is below par, Mufti Sayeed said the Government has adopted a ‘business with ease’ policy to facilitate the entrepreneurs.

On the issue of pending claims of the victims with various Insurance companies, the Chief Minister assured the business and tourism houses that the Government will take up the matter with the concerned companies on priority.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Finance, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu said the World Bank (WB) tranche of Rs. 1,500 crore will be released to the state during the next few days which will help in permanent restoration of the damaged infrastructure. “Till such time the Centre sanctions and releases the special dispensation, the WB tranche will go a long way in starting the long-term restoration process,” he added.

Many other speakers appreciated the efforts of the new Government in prioritizing the tourism and business sectors. They demanded immediate repairs of National Highway, availability of trains from all the metro cities of the country, improvement in inter-district roads, time-bound completion of ongoing developmental projects, steps to streamline the traffic movement and raising of soft loans from financial institutions.