*No time-frame still fixed for completion of deliberations
JAMMU, Feb 24: Notwith-standing the tall claims of the PDP-BJP Coalition Government about working on the vision of former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, his dream of having comprehensive Tourism Policy to develop Jammu and Kashmir as a dynamic, sustainable and most favoured tourist destination has remained unfulfilled despite lapse of nearly two years.
This is mainly because of dilly-dallying approach of the Tourism Department in completion of process of seeking and incorporating suggestions from the stakeholders in the Draft Tourism Policy, which is imperative before approaching the Cabinet for approval.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that to make tourism one of the principle engines of economic development of the State by positioning it as a leading global destination by the year 2025, the former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had found it imperative to have a comprehensive Tourism Policy for the State.
Accordingly, he made announcement regarding framing of Tourism Policy while taking review meeting of the Tourism Department at Jammu on March 13, 2015. While pitching for a collaborated effort by the tourism players of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to showcase J&K as one package, the then Chief Minister had stated that he will soon call the meeting of Tourism Advisory Committee for shaping the roadmap for a comprehensive Tourism Policy.
Thereafter, top officer of the Tourism Department while attending a function at Jaipur on April 20, 2015 had informed the tour operators from different parts of the country that J&K would soon come up with a new Tourism Policy focusing on extensive promotion of State among travelers and the development of infrastructure and facilities, sources informed.
Mufti Sayeed kept his words and convened the meeting of Tourism Advisory Committee in the month of November 2015 whereby the issue of having Tourism Policy was deliberated upon. Thereafter, the members of TAC held wide-ranging discussions to suggest short-term and long term measures aimed at heralding J&K’s resurgence as a mainstream and wholesome travel destination, sources said.
Even Draft Tourism Policy prepared by the Tourism Department was circulated among the members who unanimously agreed to study various tourism models in the country so as to ensure that best practices in high-end clientele satisfaction are emulated and incorporated in the Draft Tourism Policy.
“However, the steps initiated on the instructions of the then Chief Minister have failed to reach the logical conclusion despite lapse of considerable period of time as with the passage of time the concerned authorities of the Tourism Department have stopped paying serious attention towards this vital aspect”, sources regretted.
They further said, “the fate of Draft Tourism Policy is hanging in balance despite the tall claims of the PDP-BJP Coalition Government about working on the vision of former Chief Minister”, adding “two years is sufficient time to frame any policy after holding deliberations, seeking suggestions and their incorporation in the draft”.
In this way, the Government has failed to start moving towards the mission of developing Jammu and Kashmir as a dynamic, sustainable and most-favoured tourist destination offering high quality experience to tourists by providing congenial development framework for facilitating and accelerating investments and improving livelihood opportunities at the local level and to devise strategies for increasing arrival of domestic and international tourists.
“The issue of delay in framing Tourism Policy was also raised by certain MLAs in the Legislative Assembly during the Budget Session concluded recently but the issue was brushed under the carpet by stating that policy shall be put up before the State Cabinet shortly”, sources said.
When contacted, Secretary Tourism Department, Farooq Shah said, “the process of holding deliberations with certain stakeholders is still on and thereafter Draft Tourism Policy will be placed before Cabinet”. He, however, failed to specify any time-frame for the completion of this exercise despite the fact that decision about having comprehensive Tourism Policy was taken nearly two years back.