GULMARG, OCTOBER 04: Describing Kashmir valley as ideally suited for high-end holiday travel, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Sunday said he was confident that tourist footfall of winters will match summers if the existing facilities are upgraded to the level of international standards.
He also ordered launching a week-long mass awareness campaign beginning October 7 for sensitising all stakeholders connected with tourism about the significance of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in all the exotic locations falling within the jurisdictions of Tourism Development Authorities, particularly Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Patnitop. “The campaign should involve all concerned MLAs, District and Divisional Administrations right across the state,” he added.
The Chief Minister said this, while he was chairing a high-level meeting here at the famous ski resort of Gulmarg, which registers a huge flow of tourists in winters as well. He also visited Kangdoori, Strawberry Valley and the historic Maharaja Palace and took stock of the ongoing projects.
MLA Tangmarg, Abass Wani, Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, were also present in the meeting.
Describing high-end resorts as a catalyst for driving niche tourists to valley’s best known winter destinations, the Chief Minister asked the Chief Secretary to speed up finalization of the Gulmarg’s Master Plan so that the resort is developed with an international flavour. “Once the Master Plan is finalized, it will enable us to conceive plans for starting wide ranging activities to make Gulmarg high-end,” he added.
The Chief Minister was informed by Secretary Tourism that all modalities and procedural requirements have been finalized and the revised Master Plan is expected to be approved in the next Cabinet meeting.
Asserting that travel industry cannot flourish unless power, water and roads in resorts match benchmark standards, Mufti Sayeed obtained progress report from the concerned Chief Engineers on the present status of the basic amenities. He directed Chief Engineer R&B to macadamise road from Gulmarg to Strawberry Valley, Dobi Ghat, which has been shortlisted as a site for eco-friendly tented accommodation and setting up of high-end resorts.
Appreciating the work done by R&B Department in improving the condition of roads, the Chief Minister also ordered construction of half-a-km concrete road on pilot basis within the bowl for verifying the feasibility of this technology as replacement of existing internal roads. He also stressed on developing cycling tracks for paddlers, which is a very popular activity in European tourist destinations.
The Chief Minister also issued directions for ensuring uninterrupted water and power supply availability in the resort, asking them to avoid any glitches, especially in winters.
The Chief Engineer assured the Chief Minister on charging the AVR transformer without any delay to prevent voltage fluctuation in the resort. An amount of Rs.55 lakh have already been released to Power Department by Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) for the same.
A DPR for underground power cabling in Gulmarg has also been prepared on the instructions of the Chief Minister to ensure 24×7 electricity supply.
On the issue of littering and garbage disposal, the Chief Minister was informed that a mechanism has been put in place at Patnitop, Pahalgam and Gulmarg, which receive a large number of tourists, so that these resorts are kept clean and professionally maintained.
CEO GDA informed the Chief Minister that although most of the hotels have already installed their own STPs, there is a requirement of setting up of a common STP for effective solid waste management, for which a DPR has been prepared at an estimated cost of Rs.17 crore.
Stressing upon upgrading healthcare facilities to meet any medical emergency, the Chief Minister desired setting up of model hospitals with adequate manpower and equipment at all major tourist destinations, particularly at Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Patnitop, to cater to the needs of the travellers.
Describing golf tourism as critical to position J&K as a high-end holiday destination, Mufti Sayeed emphasized upon setting up of more golf courses at Sonamarg, Yusmarg, Dudapathri and Jai-Bhaderwah, where natural contours most suited for developing fairways and greens are available.
The Chief Minister stressed upon revival of Gulmarg Golf course, one of the oldest courses established in the 18th century. “We have to see why golfing as a sport has failed to take off at such a lovely place as Gulmarg,” he said.
Asking PCCF to conserve the ecology of Gulmarg resort, the Chief Minister stressed upon afforestation of denuded areas and patches along the roads leading to various tourist destinations which include Daksum, Warwan, Aharbal and Kongwattan belts so as to make the journeys to these places memorable.
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