Centre to make J&K No. 1 tourist destination: Reddy

*Supports Mughal Gardens for UNESCO heritage map

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Oct 1: The Centre will take every measure required to make Jammu and Kashmir the number one tourist destination in the country, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture G Kishan Reddy said today.
He pledged all support to the J-K administration to bring Mughal Gardens on the UNESCO Heritage map so that these places get international recognition and help in increasing foreign tourist footfall.
Reddy wrapped up his two-day visit to Kashmir as part of the Centre’s special outreach programme for J-K.
Appreciating the Tourism Department for its work done during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister said the J-K administration has done better than other states and UTs during the crisis.
J-K is progressing and moving in the right direction and the Union Government is supporting the UT in every respect to take the region to uniform prosperity with the rest of India, he said.
Reddy said the Centre would take every measure required to make Jammu and Kashmir the number one tourist destination in the country.
During his visit, the Union minister kick-started several developmental projects including a 10-bedroom tourist complex in Verinag, apple resort in Ladoora Rafiabad and wayside amenities in Awantipora among others.
In his interactions with stakeholders drawn from various segments of the tourism industry, including hoteliers, travel agents, houseboat owners, Reddy reaffirmed the commitment of the Central Government for the promotion of tourism and culture in the Valley.
He said the Centre will do everything in its domain to brand Jammu and Kashmir as an international tourist destination.
Among other issues, the tourism stakeholders sought direct flights from different cities of the country including Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai to Srinagar.
They also demanded insurance cover in case of losses, development of new and virgin tourist destinations, better mobile connectivity at tourism places, renovation of old hotels at tourism destinations like Pahalgam, Gulmarg among others.
The Minister gave a patient hearing to the tourism stakeholders and assured them that all their genuine issues would be taken up for early resolution, an official statement said.
He noted with appreciation the efforts put in by the Tourism Department in promoting J-K as a top destination for tourists.
Reddy expressed satisfaction over the way the department has been carrying out promotional activities, identifying new destinations and has effectively concluded capacity building and vaccination for the tourism stakeholders, the statement said.
During his visit, the Minister also reviewed the tourism scenario in J-K in a meeting with officers from tourism, culture, Archaeological Survey of India and other departments.
He also had an interaction with students of various Government-run schools at Royal Springs Golf Course who were trained in golf at the Kashmir Golf Club.
Reddy said Kashmir is a favourite golfing spot for tourists and golfers from around the world and the local youth should get the maximum benefit from the beautiful golfing destination.
The Minister also flagged off Dachigam Foothills Mountain Biking Expedition from Harwan Garden.
Later in the evening, he had a tour of the Dal Lake and praised its beauty, the statement said.