Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good days of tourism

Asserting that tourism is an economic activity and should not be equated with the phenomenon of normalcy, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that the visit of over 6 lakh visitors to the Valley this summer should serve a loud message for change of travel advisories issued by various countries regarding Jammu and Kashmir.

Expressing satisfaction over the modifications effected by some countries in this regard, he hoped that other countries would also follow the suit. He said that up till now 1.3 million visitors and yatris have visited the Valley indicating return of good days of tourism. "This should be a guiding observation for the countries to remove the travel advisories they have issued to their citizens regarding travelling to the State", he said.

Addressing the 4-day 9th Annual Convention of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) at SKICC here, the Chief Minister said that the concept of relating tourism activities with the normalcy needed to be changed and tourism regarded as a sheer economic activity.

Omar Abdullah said that Jammu and Kashmir possesses vast potential of adventure tourism which is gaining popularity and momentum globally over the conventional tourism. "Our mountains and rivers are great gifts of God and these offer unique and wide-ranging adventure interests for trekkers, mountaineers, river-rafters, para-gliders, skiers and others", he said, adding that the danger attributed to these activities is simply a misgiving.

"The lovers of adventure sports undertake these activities in a safe mode and the graph of its popularity is steadily on upward trend", he said, adding that the challenge before the State is to showcase this potential of the State in a befitting manner. He said that the concerned department should also produce generation of trained personnel and guides in this field.

The Chief Minister said that ATOAI can help the State to move forward in this direction and train local youth. He said that the State has also to concentrate on improving and upgrading capacities besides raising necessary infrastructure. He said that the local people associated with tourism especially the youth are required to learn from such conferences, understand the requirements and necessities of adventure tourism and also display their views regarding this activity.

Omar Abdullah said that the adventure tourism in the State can be harnessed in a big way to generate jobs and give boost to the economy across the State. He underlined the need for joint efforts by all the stakeholders to nurture this economically viable venture and open vistas for progress and development in the State.

Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora in his speech highlighted the tourist potential of the State, adding that adventure tourism has a great future here. He presented the resume of the measures put in place in the State for the holistic and integrated development of the tourism sector.

Among others the function was attended by Minister of State for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani, Union Secretary Tourism, Rajen Habib Khawaja, Secretary Tourism Department, Atal Dullo, President ATOAI, Tejbir Singh Anand, Convention chairman and founder president of ATOAI, Capt. Sudesh Kumar and Director Tourism, Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Shah.

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