Home Minister Amit Shah proclaimed that Jammu and Kashmir are turning from a terrorist hotspot to a tourism hotspot while addressing Baramulla public rally. For a moment, it sounded like a political jumla. But the data available suggests that the union territory’s tourist footfall in 2022 is the highest since independence.
Overwhelmed by this data of a record number of tourists who visited Kashmir this year, Union Trade and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal also tweeted: “Kashmir coming alive”. About 16.2 million tourists have visited Jammu & Kashmir since January this year, the highest number in 75 years.
Fruits Of Normalcy
The numbers themselves tell the story: There is significant economic development in the valley and the signs of it are visible for everyone to see. And this all was possible only due to the focused attention and pragmatic policy programs adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ever since the roadblocks on the path of development were removed with the abrogation of article 370 in August 2019. J&K is the top priority of the prime minister which is also evident with the beginning of the investment process in thousands of crores in different sectors. The peaceful atmosphere and normalcy created by the present regime have ensured a conducive environment for tourism to flourish and the results in the form of huge tourist footfalls are for all of us to see.
Credit Goes To PM
Goyal tweeted: “The (Modi) government’s transformative initiatives and reforms to uplift Jammu and Kashmir have given a major thrust to tourism (in J&K)”. Kashmir is known for its sylvan scenery and settings, snow-capped Himalayan mountains, fast-flowing rivers, Mughal-era gardens, Alpine meadows and houseboats around a beautiful Dal lake, has seen a resurgence in tourism since the beginning of this year.
This has not happened before, but now as it is happening and as all past records of tourist figures were broken this year, the credit for it all goes to one man – Prime Minister Narendra Modi who always took a keen interest in seeing Kashmir tourism blooming and always acted like a brand ambassador of Kashmir tourism by promoting it through his speeches, tweets, and all popular program ‘Man Ki Baat’.
LG On The Forefront
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is also at the forefront of carrying the vision of the Prime Minister for Kashmir forward. He is giving impetus to development initiatives in the tourism sector as envisaged by the Prime Minister. Only last month, Mr. Sinha inaugurated a multi-screen cinema hall in Srinagar, more than two decades after cinemas were closed in Kashmir. Besides this, cinema halls in Shopian and Pulwama districts were also inaugurated by Sinha, who plans to open cinema halls in every district of Kashmir and Jammu regions. Starting of direct flights from Srinagar to Sharjah by the Modi government has also resulted in giving a fillip to tourism in Kashmir. Earlier, there was also no flight during the night from Srinagar and Jammu and the Prime Minister also started night flights from both cities.
Initiatives For Development
Recently, a comprehensive Film Policy was launched to attract filmmakers for shooting after decades and within a year of notification of this policy, as many as 140 shooting permissions for films and web series have been issued. Soon, a film studio will be launched with state-of-art facilities. This, besides providing new opportunities to the young talent of Jammu and Kashmir, shall boost the business ecosystem of the Union territory.
Opening of cinemas, international flights, and the resultant tourist flow testify to the overall development and change in J&K. The bumper tourism season means robust economic activity and the creation of jobs and triggers massive infrastructure development
Also, J&K authorities are contemplating installing the ‘Srinagar Eye’ with a giant ‘Ferris Wheel’ on the pattern of the famous London Eye inside the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar to boost the tourism sector further. A location has also been shortlisted for construction of the same and if this goes through, it could become a huge attraction for tourists and will be a major boost to the tourism sector as well in the Valley.
Thrust To Tourism Sector
Various other models and schemes are also being launched to promote tourism here. Rural tourism is steadily occupying a space hitherto denied to it either due to not venturing into this area of tourism of vast potential or even if such an idea has been conceived, lack of resources has kept the roadmap for it in the virtual doldrums. 75 offbeat tourist destinations are also being developed in Jammu and Kashmir as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
The Tourism sector in Jammu and Kashmir is being developed as per the vision of sustainable development goals. Besides, the dedicated focus is also being given to strengthening the hospitality segment and for establishing a robust tourism infrastructure system.
Opening of cinemas, international flights, and the resultant tourist flow testify to the overall development and change that has taken place in the Union Territory of J&K. The bumper tourism season not only means a robust economic activity and creation of jobs but also triggers a massive infrastructure development in the region. Along with horticulture and agriculture, tourism is an important industry for Kashmir, accounting for about 7% of its economy, according to government data. All these sectors are the biggest source of employment in Jammu and Kashmir. Tourism has generated maximum employment in various regions of Jammu and Kashmir including Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, and the Kashmir Valley.
The Manoj Sinha-led Government is also working towards developing state-of-art resources through public and private investment. A five-pronged approach for effective transformation of the tourism potential of J&K has been adopted on the directions of Mr. Sinha and a comprehensive mechanism is being laid down to provide the best facilities to corporate golfers, tourists, and food connoisseurs.
Despite setbacks faced due to the Covid pandemic, the UT administration has taken sufficient steps for the revival of tourism in J&K and for providing employment to individuals associated with the sector.