Kashmir to be upgraded as world-class tourist destination: Mufti Sayeed

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‘Single Window’ to facilitate creation of high-end facilities with global benchmarks

SRINAGAR: In a bid to project Kashmir as a tourist destination with global benchmarks, the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today called for brand tie-ups to create elite facilities for high-spending visitors to the State.

To fast-track approvals for laying high-end tourism infrastructure, the Chief Minister also announced a ‘Single Window’ for projects’ clearance in a time-bound manner under one roof.

Mufti Sayeed said this while chairing a high-level meeting here today. He was shown two presentations by Ahad Hotels & Resorts & ITC as well as Sarovar Group of Hotels, aimed at upgrading tour and travel infrastructure in the state in tune with international standards.

Principal Secretary, Planning & Development, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Commissioner/Secretary, Tourism & Culture, Shailendra Kumar and MD JKTDC, Farooq Ahmad Shah, Chairman, Ahad Hotels & Resorts, Mushtaq Burza, Director, ITC, Nakul Anand and Director Development, Sarovar Group of Hotels, Rajesh Ranjan, were present on the occasion.

Emphasizing upon the need to promote ‘Business with Ease’, the Chief Minister said the Government will remove hurdles to facilitate brand tie-ups so that high-end intake capacity of the State, which is presently low, is substantially increased to draw overseas and top-class domestic visitors to the State. “A high-powered Committee will be framed that will facilitate creation of brand infrastructure to attract international tourist footfall to the State,” he added.

Urging top stakeholders in tourism industry to employ talented local youth in their hospitality and human resource divisions, Mufti Sayeed said expansion of tourism infrastructure will create countless employment opportunities in the services sector. “Our youth are greatly talented in HR and Hospitality segments and I am sure they will do a fairly good job at the cutting-edge level,” he asserted.

In a bid to dovetail flavour of exquisite Kashmiri cuisines with the tourism industry, the Chief Minister asked for branding the food industry of Kashmir by opening a series of restaurants and Bukharaswhich cater to the select market. “Institute of Hotel Management at Srinagar has the potential to vastly improve the food services’ sector that can supplement our travel industry,” he said and stressed upon the need for organizing more food festivals across the country to showcase famed recipes like Wazwan.

Asking for a concerted effort to promote J&K as a top-class golf destination with week-end and week-long packages, the Chief Minister called for an organized publicity campaign to promote golf tourism in the State. “We already have a golf circuit at Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sidhra. We are exploring possibilities of laying new courses at Sonamarg, Sanasar and Yusmarg for which feasibility reports are being prepared,” Mufti Sayeed said and added that Kashmir Golf Club, which is one of the oldest courses in the country, will also be refurbished to attract golf lovers.

The Chief Minister said he has prioritized the finalization of the master-plans of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and other resorts so that development and improvement of resort infrastructure is taken up in a planned way without disturbing the ambience of the surrounding environment. “We have to sell tourism as a wholesome package to high-end visitors as footfall from outside will considerably increase our internal revenue generation,” he added.

Ahad Group of Hotels, in collaboration with ITC, is establishing a new chain of high-quality 5-star hotels while as Sarovar Group is also planning to open high-end luxury hotels to improve intake capacity of top-class visitors in the State. Hotel Nedou’s at Srinagar is also being developed as a world-class heritage hotel and the work on the project is expected to start soon.

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