SRINAGAR: With soaring growth in leisure travel market, Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai today said emphasis on “eco-friendly adventure tourism” is an effective and tangible way to give back to society.
The Advisor said this during a meeting attended by Secretary Tourism Rigzin Sampheal, Managing Director (MD) JK Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) Asif Hamid Khan, MD, JK Cable Car Corporation Shamim Malik, MD, Golf Development and Management, Ghalib Mohammed, Secretary Golf Development and Management Nuzhat Gul, Director Tourism Jammu, Om Prakash, Director Tourism Kashmir Tasaduq Jeelani, Director Planning ParveizKakroo, CEOs of developmental authorities and other officials.
During the meeting, the Advisor said the Governor led administration is making sustainable efforts to increase tourist footfall in the State so as to give a fillip to the tourism industry in the State. However, in the pursuit, preserving of State’s natural wildlife and clean environment for future generation to cherish, could not be ignored, he added.
Speaking high about the concept of eco-friendly adventure tourism, Ganai said eco-friendly adventure tourism is need of the hour as it has many contours to it. He explained the concept not only provides a new option for adventure lovers to test their adrenaline rush at various adventure destinations in the State, but also helps in the well-being of local population by providing them new employment options.
In the pursuit to increase tourist footfall, the Advisor urged conservation and sustenance of ecology should not be compromised. “As responsible citizens, it is our duty to ensure that our adventure activities are carried out in eco-friendly environment so that travel to natural areas does not affect conservation of the environment there,” the Advisor said.
Ganai said with great peaks, fresh water lakes, glaciers and meadows in all three regions of the State has great potential for adventure tourism and need of the hour is to promote them at national as well as international levels.
Giving an example about the adventure places in Valley, the Advisor said Pahalgam is the “paradise for adventure tourists.” He said Yusmarg is another example of a great adventure place for tourists. The Advisor directed the concerned to desist from building concrete structures in these areas.
“Don’t dot the green,” directed the Advisor.
He said instead focus should be to provide maximum facilities to the travelers visiting there.
The Advisor suggested to organize daylong trips for tourists from Pahalgam to Nagbal-Anantnag temple and spring, Pahalgam to Matan temple, Pahalgam to Achabal, Pahalgam to Verinag Garden, and Pahalgam to Kokernag garden.
Stressing on the need to involve private sector in promoting adventure tourism in the State, the Advisor said there are many senior private players who have over the time developed expertise in the field and are presently pursuing the activities in and outside the State. He said it is better to use their expertise so that better services are provided to the travelers visiting the State.
Highlighting the role of Tourism Development Authorities, Ganai said the purpose of creating these authorities was to harness the real potential of tourism industry in the State. Unfortunately, there were not sufficient financial resources at that time to reap maximum benefits, however, with adequate funds under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) the people working in these authorities should be able to deliver the optimum results.
The Advisor asked the concerned to relook into the second phase proposal of PMDP so that all the activities, especially infrastructure development and publicity related to tourism, could be covered under the programme.
Earlier, the Secretary Tourism revealed that the Tourism Department has formulated a draft of adventure guidelines, which has been put in public domain to seek their feedback in this regard.
It was informed that Rs 2000 crore were earmarked for Tourism Sector in State to carry out various activities and the amount is to be spent in next five years. In the first phase, projects worth Rs 400 crore were sanctioned, while as the second phase proposal for another Rs 400 has also been sent to the Union Government for approval.