Also known as the City of Temples, Jammu has a rich heritage but untapped tourism potential. Despite being a hub of tourists, the city, which was the seat of Dogra dynasty has remained neglected when it comes to making it an independent tourist destination.
Millions of tourists visit Jammu every year. A significant fraction of them are in fact pilgrims who endeavour an arduous journey to Katra and Amarnath. Though Amarnath yatra is seasonal, Mata Vaishno Devi located in Katra attracts pilgrims throughout the year who come in droves. A whopping 77.23 Lakh pilgrims visited Katra, (around 44 Kms from Jammu) in 2016 alone. (see stats) Similarly, tens of millions of tourists, both Indians and foreigners visit Kashmir valley. Despite the fact that Jammu acts as the base camp from where tourists disseminate to their respective destinations, it’s a bitter truth that tourists, not even in a trickle prefer to stay in Jammu. Also, the so called Jammu tourism has actually become ‘Katra tourism’ concentrated in Reasi district only. Is it the ‘stepmother attitude’ of the government towards Jammu that has led to the sad situation?
Even the 15 lakh inhabitants of Jammu have a few options for having local outings with their families unlike Srinagar city, which is adorned by parks and well maintained historical places, giving its residents a sense of belonging to their culture and history.
Tourism plays a significant role in employment generation and economic development of a region. As per World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates, an investment of 10 lakh in travel and tourism industry can generate about 90 jobs which is much higher than its competing sectors like Agriculture and Manufacturing which generate 45 & 13 jobs. Tourism also acts as a catalyst in the development of backward and far flung regions of a particular area as tourists are more lured to the natural scenic beauty of these remote areas such as Lolab and Bangus valley in Kupwara, Suru valley in Kargil, Daksum valley in Anantnag, Gurez valley in Baramulla etc.
It is estimated that almost 50-60% of total population of J&K is directly and/or indirectly engaged in tourism related activities. J&K, considered as one of the industrially backward states has Tourism industry which is its strength and the most popular source of income. We must realise that there’s a huge untapped opportunity underlying in Jammu. Having the potential to become one of the world’s top destinations, our aspirations are eating dust due to lackadaisicalness of the state administration. Tourism could be the tipping point in the destiny of Jammu.