Boosting Border Tourism

We talk of and are really confronted with the problem of how more and more jobs could be created for the unemployed persons and if we look at the global phenomenon and trend of how tourism related potential of every hue is harnessed , we as a fast developing economy have to explore and even commercially exploit each and every aspect of tourism which if seen in the context of the global perspective , we in Jammu and Kashmir , particularly in Jammu division, are still in our infancy in opening up of our vast potential of tourism as we have lot to showcase , much to develop and still newer avenues of increasing the tourist footfall found out. Agreed, the process needs heavy investments as also professional indulgence but both can be achieved should there be an innovative and enthusiastic mindset and a strong administrative will.
How much tourism can be instrumental in economic growth and opening up of employment opportunities can be gauged by the latest relevant figures as 1 in 4 of all new jobs across the world comes from tourism sector. Travel and tourism contributes 10.5 percent of global GDP and nearly 11 percent of all jobs. India, though with promising projections of tourism’s contribution to annual GDP by 2028 to be around 10.35 percent means finding out newer avenues , developing hidden potential to full capacity and making tourism in India not confined to conventional sightseeing , mountaineering and religious tourism and adventurous tourism alone but showcasing and sharing side by side , our rich culture , cuisine, traditions, music , art and the like on a wider canvas.
In this connection, concept of setting up of ”wayside facilities and amenities” at best selected locations along Highways and particularly roads manned by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is going to be translated into a reality which will add one more feather in the cap of making our tourism viable and paying dividends in many ways. Creating direct and indirect employment through setting up of what is called ”BRO cafes” and providing wayside amenities to travellers, tourists and personnel engaged in different activities is another grand step not only to promote tourism in our border areas but developing and boosting economic activities. It is important to know, at the same time, as to what would be in the basket of facilities for the tourists provided by these cafes. In this connection, it is learnt that the main facilities for parking of vehicles shall be ensured. Food plaza, restaurant, rest rooms for men and women separately, also for differently abled, medical – first aid facilities and MI rooms etc are proposed to be provided by these cafes and depending on the rate of success of these cafes, not only the number could be increased but additional facilities too can be provided.
Through these lines we have already mentioned about how border villages under specific schemes of the Central Government were being developed as also how infrastructural support especially that of better connectivity, power, water and medical facilities were envisaged to be provided in the border areas and villages. With this type of support in place setting up of these BRO cafes shall prove very useful . However, operating of the mode of Public Private Partnership on license basis in respect of setting up of these Cafes shall ensure proper operation and running of these cafes provided, of course, design and allotting slots for setting up of these cafes remains the domain of the BRO.
To start with , the decision of the Union Ministry to set up 75 BRO cafes across 12 States and Union Territories sounds all suitable even if on test basis which we hope shall prove quite promising and even beyond expectations. Like generally always, Jammu and Kashmir including the UT of Ladakh are going to have maximum , 26 from out of the 75 BRO cafes set up. Lot of credit goes to the efforts of the BRO in connecting places and villages across the north eastern states in particular, which has resulted in addressing the strategic needs of the local people , hence multi utility wayside facilities along the major tourist circuits in the shape of setting up of cafes having been mooted by the Ministry of Defence.