Vast and varied as the tourism sector is , the country on the whole was still far behind most of those countries blessed equally with the potential of tourism as we in India are. Agreed, lot is being done to promote this industry but lot more is yet to be done . The same holds good for the UT of Jammu and Kashmir where the huge potential of tourism remains to be harnessed and commercially exploited. We have to look beyond the main form of tourism that of leisure or holiday tourism and find out how religious tourism, adventurous tourism, cultural tourism and more so- eco-tourism could be given a big push in this UT which is endowed with enough potential. We reiterate, as must fairly be known to planners and experts, that the tourism industry in Jammu and Kashmir had so much inherent prospects of generating employment that it could become the biggest provider of employment to the people and thus contribute to a real turnaround of the fragile economy of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is, however, heartening to see that the UT Government has realised the importance of eco- tourism and in order to give it the required impetus which could only be done by raising and innovating the existing infrastructure for it , proper strategy needs, as such, to be evolved. Administrative Council under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha thus giving approval to various steps proposed to be taken in this regard but without disturbing the sensitivities and the fragilities of the ecological balance was bound to reward back with better outputs and results. We already have some of the main requirements in this regard in terms of trekking routes passing through beautiful spots , flora and fauna , rest houses where some dignitaries and even forest officers occasionally stay and other existing infrastructure and resources which , however, need to be made fully responsive and of full utility to the visiting people. In other words, that means giving those a due facelift or carrying necessary renovations.
We have to prepare the existing supporting structure and mechanism in tune with the demands and the requirements of the tourists as their expectations and demands have been not only changing in form, taste and priorities but are looking for more opportunities for varied facilities right from short term entertainments like cultural shows , recreation events , enjoying of culinary varieties etc but better staying facilities and the like. Eco tourism , to be precise, means travel to complete natural destination where the impact is minimised being mainly forest hinterland as also the protected areas where extra care needed to be taken . This tourism in itself goes a long way in building environmental awareness and in this respect, both the Forest Department and the Tourism Department have jointly to intensify their efforts so that the tourists and wild life enthusiasts found their trip all worth cherishing. Since in this era of information technology, one wants to have all types of reservations of hotels if any in nearby areas, huts, rest houses etc done all through one’s mobile phone in the hand, a user friendly online portal on ”first come first serve” basis needs to be provided for the purpose and about it all, requisite awareness also made.
Since the existing facility of rest houses and huts within and around the destinations of pristine nature are limited, depending upon the response and the occupancy of these staying places, more of such rest houses and huts could be built. We note with satisfaction that additional 58 rest houses and huts are to be opened and refurbished . Since additional personnel in core departments of the UT may be required in connection with making the eco-tourism a successful commercial pursuit , it would not be out of place to mention that these personnel should be fully trained to arrange offering best services and facilities so that not only the footfall of tourists increases but the very idea of promoting eco-tourism fructifies into a rewarding reality.