April 1998 News

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Kashmir prepares to woo back tourists

2nd April 1998

SRINAGAR, Kashmir is all set to host a three-day conference tomorrow, aimed at attracting domestic tourists to the Valley. The meet, which will be attended by a number of dignitaries, including envoys of two Central Asian republics, will discuss ways to revive the ailing industry that was fetching the State a revenue of Rs. 500 crores before it crumbled in the wake of militancy in 1989.

The Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, will inaugurate the conference, entitled, "Back to Paradise". The delegates will have three working sessions in one of which they will interact with professionals in the field of tourism.

The conference is being hosted jointly by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation and the Sher-e- Kashmir International Conference Centre. The State Tourism Department is the nodal agency.

The delegates are scheduled to have a trip to the snow-covered Gulmarg besides a sight-seeing trip to the Zabarwan gardens.

The participants in the conference include Mr. L. Lakishaman, president of the ASSOCHAM, Mr. S.S.H. Rahman, who heads the ASSOCHAM committee on tourism, Mr. S. Narendar, the Prime Minister's Information Officer, the Additional Director General of Tourism and the Delhi-based ambassadors of Kirgizstan and Kazagistan. A group of 10 journalists is also expected to join the delegates.

The palatial hotels are in a bad condition. The rooms and bedding are gathering dust," said Mr. Habib-ullaha Mir, president of the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, the apex body of 400 hotels and restaurants of the Valley, adding, "the Government attitude towards the sector is agonizing".

He said unless the Disturbed Areas Act is not withdrawn from the Valley, tourists coming to the area was a remote possibility.


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