Unscrupulous Elements Derailing Tourism: Jora

Unscrupulous Elements Derailing Tourism: Jora

26 August 2012
Rising Kashmir
Mir Liyaqut Ali

Kokernag: Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora Saturday said that despite efforts by some people to spoil tourist season in 2012 like they did in the past, Government successfully foiled their designs and maintained law and order in Kashmir. He said that 2012 was the second successful tourism year for valley as it received more tourists that last year. “Some unscrupulous elements made efforts to destroy tourism this year also through shrine blazes and in other forms but government foiled all the anti- tourism conspires,” Jora said while speaking in a seminar “Tourism Promotion with Preservation” organized by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Alliance (JKTA) here at Kokernag. He said that government did not aim only for sustainable growth of tourism sector but on qualitative tourism also. “We are receiving huge number of middle-class tourists from 2011. We are also attracting high-end tourists to this place for the betterment of our economy,” he said. Eco-friendly infrastructure at new tourist spots Minister said that tourists were remaining confined to places Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg only and stayed for shorter time in the valley. He said new tourist destination would be brought on the tourist map so that tourists’ stay in the valley could be extended. “Tourists visit only these three known places and move back. Need is to bring other tourist destinations on the map to extend tourist stay from five to 20 days which will help promote tourism sector and improve economy of the state,” he said. Minister said that adequate infrastructure would be developed at new tourist destinations. However, he quickly added that the infrastructural development would not come up at the cost of the fragile eco- system of the destination. “We have to maintain a balance between the infrastructural development and environment.” He said tourism department would identify the land for the infrastructural development and private parties would be invited investment. DDC Anantnag to prepare Master Plan for south Kashmir tourism Saying that Kokarnag, Ahrabal, Verinag, Daksum in south Kashmir had tremendous potential for tourism he asked the District Development Commissioner (DDC), Anantnag to come up with a Master Plan for developing infrastructure at these tourist places., “Without disturbing the virgin beauty of these scenic places, basic infrastructure including hotels, guest houses and huts would be developed at these spots to prolong the stay of domestic as well as foreign tourists, “ he said. The tourism minister said that government was also keen on promoting heritage tourism and preservation of all the heritage sights and other assets was going on at good pace. Govt to help houseboats for repair works On sidelines of the function Minister told media persons that Houseboat industry was the icon of tourism sector and government would plead their case of renovation of damaged houseboats before the J&K high court. “We can’t trespass the judiciary as High Court has put a ban on the construction of new houseboats and also on repair woks of old ones,” he said. Refuting that army had raised any objection for the development of Bangas valley in North Kashmir as a tourist spot, Jora said that they (Army) ready for creating development authorities and putting up basic tourism related infrastructure at that place. He said that presently Bangas was a virgin destination and has no infrastructure at present. “To cater to tourists’ influx, a proper master plan would be prepared for this destination”. 20 new tourist spots to be developed Minister of state for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani who was also present on the occasion said that tourism was a normal economic industry and good tourist inflow to valley should not be measured with normalcy. “One should not measure the huge influx of tourists to the valley with normalcy and situation here. Tourism is a normal economic industry like other handicrafts, horticulture and other sectors,” he said. He also announced that new 20 virgin destinations would be developed as tourist spots in the valley and asked tourism stakeholders to join government to build basic infrastructure at these places. Targeting more than 20 lakh tourist arrivals by the end of this year he said, “Government and private stake holders will go hand in hand in promoting new tourist places for the economic growth in the state,” he said. The one day seminar was organized in collaboration with District Administration Anantnag and Kokernag Development Authority (KDA). Implement eco-tourism policy for infrastructure development: JKTA Chairman JKTA, GM Dug during his welcome address raised several important issues pertaining to Tourism Development in Kashmir region. Dug stressed on preserving the fragile environment of Kashmir and suggested to Government that lesser known and virgin tourist resorts should be developed under the guidelines of ECO tourism policy of Govt of India. “The eco-system of the health resorts and other virgin destinations should be kept under due consideration and areas like Kokernag should be saved from turning into concrete jungles,” he said. He further suggested that waste disposal management system, setting of STPs including construction of drainage network should be given top priority before other infrastructural needs for such fragile tourist locations are allowed to come up. District Development Commissioner Anantnag Farooq Ahmad Shah, Ex Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Abdul Rashid Wani, also addressed the seminar. Deputy Chairman JKTA, Nasir Shah presented a vote of thanks to all the dignitaries from government and representatives of the travel trade bodies. Director Tourism Kashmir, Talat Parvez, Secretary Commissioner Tourism Atal Duloo, President KHAROF, Faiz Ahmad Bakhshi, President KHARA, Showkat Chowdry, President TAAK, Rauf Ahmad Tremboo, President TASK, Mohammad Ibrahem Siah, President HBOA, Mohammad Azim Tuman and some French based adventurous tour operators were also present on the occasion.