Mantalai to come up as International Yoga Centre: Mufti

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‘Govt to consider subsidized package for Jammu to attract leisure tourists this season’  

 JAMMU: Kick-starting his strategy to develop Jammu as an independent tourist destination, the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today announced creation of an International Yoga Centre at the famous pilgrim spot of Mantalai. He also said the Government will favourably consider a subsidized package for Jammu Region in the coming season to attract tourists to visit region’s leisure destinations.

The Chief Minister was speaking in a marathon interactive session during a J&K Tourism Conference, organized to conceptualize an out-of-box strategy to put Jammu on the leisure tourism map of the country. Tour and travel operators from all over the country as well as the State attended the three-hour-long session.

Entrusting the responsibility for optimally utilizing the intake capacity at various destinations in Jammu Region to the public and private stakeholders, the Chief Minister said the Tourism sector is bound to play a multiplier effect on other sectors like handicrafts and services which will help in improving the economy of the State. He urged the private tour and travel operators to play an active role in changing public perception across the country about visiting Jammu & Kashmir as a safe tourist destination.

Describing Jammu as an ideal tourist location, whose potential has remained largely unexplored, the Chief Minister stated that Jammu has to be branded on the pattern of Kashmir so that the hidden nature spots in the region are brought in the forefront. “Mantalai will be promoted as a brand Yoga Centre which will have a cascading effect on the flow of tourists to the spot. “I am sure that once the Centre comes up, the flow of tourists to Mantalai will pick up,” hoped the Chief Minister who also called for packaging Baghliar Dam Catchment as a potential water-sports destination in the region.

Calling for an aggressive marketing campaign to mobilize leisure tourists from outside the State to places like Patnitop, Bhaderwah, Sanasar, Sudh Mahadev and Batote, the Chief Minister also called for developing Bani-Basohli-Bhaderwah-Jai as a Tourist Circuit to exploit the huge tourism potential of the area.

The Chief Minister also spoke at length about developing Suchetgarh as part of Border Tourism, on the analogy of Wagah Border. He also highlighted the potential of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex and said the Complex will be a major attraction for heritage tourists coming to the region.

The Chief Minister laid stress on the need to develop high-end infrastructure by doing a pre-feasibility reconnaissance on laying of golf course at Sanasar, starting work on Patnitop Ropeway and establishment of eco-friendly amusement parks at various resorts to attract children and students.

The Chief Minister further said he will take up the issue of expansion of Jammu Airport with the Union Civil Aviation Ministry. “Expansion of Jammu Airport is an important issue, which has been highlighted by a number of speakers as a major bottleneck to tourist inflow to Jammu. I will take it up immediately,” the Chief Minister said.

Describing hotel industry as capital-intensive, the Chief Minister called for increasing the intake capacity by introducing eco-friendly tented accommodation at various scenic spots in the coming tourist season.

The Chief Minister said a similar conference and interactive sessions to promote tourism in the State will be held in Srinagar shortly.

Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Chief Minister urged the private stakeholders to invest their experience in promoting Jammu as an independent tourist destination. “I appreciate the efforts taken by the Chief Minister in promoting leisure tourism of Jammu city and region. Recently I was on tour to Marwah. It is such a beautiful valley but unexplored because of poor connectivity to the region,” the Deputy Chief Minister said while highlighting the potential of leisure and nature tourism of Jammu region.

Commissioner/Secretary Tourism, Shailendra Kumar, Director Tourism, Jammu, R K. Verma, MD JKTDC and Director Tourism Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Shah, besides leading tour and travel operators from Gujarat, New Delhi and Maharashtra as well as those from the State attended the Conference.