No end to dilly-dallying approach in framing J&K’s maiden Tourism Policy

Directions of Advisor fail to yield desirable results
Process initiated 4 yrs back yet to reach logical conclusion

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 5: Notwithstanding the fact that tourism is the mainstay of the State’s economy, there is no end to the dilly-dallying approach on the part of the concerned authorities in framing Jammu and Kashmir’s maiden comprehensive Tourism Policy even during the Governor’s Rule.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the necessity of having comprehensive Tourism Policy to develop Jammu and Kashmir as a dynamic, sustainable and most favoured tourist destination was deliberated upon in numerous official meetings even during the Governor’s Rule and accordingly directions were issued to the Tourism Department for immediately finalizing the process which was set into motion in the year 2015 when the draft of the policy was prepared.
On June 27, 2018, Advisor to Governor K Vijay Kumar, while chairing the maiden meeting of the Tourism Department, had laid stress on early finalization of the draft Tourism Policy, which according to him, was imperative for giving necessary impetus to this vital sector.
Thereafter, the issue was also deliberated upon in the meetings of the Committee of Secretaries chaired by the Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and every time it was assured by the Tourism Department that process initiated in 2015 will be culminated within shortest possible time.
“However, draft has not been finalized by the Tourism Department till date and this has clearly established that there is no end to the dilly-dallying approach even during the Governor’s Rule”, sources said.
After noticing some shortcomings in the draft prepared in 2015 the Tourism Department, during the Governor’s Rule, carried out some changes and thereafter the process of obtaining feed-back from the stakeholders was set into motion. “Astonishingly, this process has not reached logical conclusion till date, which means the status vis-a-vis maiden Tourism Policy is the same as it was four years back”, sources further said.
“The objective behind setting into motion the process of having maiden Tourism Policy was to make tourism one of the principle engines of economic development of the State by positioning J&K as a leading global destination by the year 2025”, sources pointed out and wondered how the State would be able to achieve this objective when there is no seriousness in finalizing the draft.
It is pertinent to mention here that announcement regarding framing of Tourism Policy was made by the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in a meeting convened on March 13, 2015 and draft of the policy was deliberated upon by the Tourism Advisory Committee in the month of November 2015.
Disclosing that issue of having comprehensive Tourism Policy in J&K was also deliberated upon by the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism and Culture in its last report, sources said that it was mentioned in the report that Tourism Policy was essential for the growth, promotion and sustenance of tourism and related activities in the State.
The Committee had stressed that the Tourism Policy should have provisions to promote effective communication and greater intra-State coordination within Jammu and Kashmir, sources further informed.
When contacted, Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Tourism Department Rigzian Sampheal said, “the Tourism Policy will be finalized within next two months as feedback from the stakeholders has almost been taken”, adding “had vital aspects not been ignored in the draft prepared in the year 2015 there would not have been delay in having comprehensive policy”.
In the meanwhile, Tourism Department, for the first time, has framed guidelines for adventure tourism, he said, adding “now, paragliding, mountaineering and water rafting events would be organized in a professional manner and with required safety measures”. He also described guidelines for adventure tourism as one of the vital aspects of the Tourism Policy.
In response to a question, he said that aggressive campaign has been launched at the national level to attract maximum possible tourists to Jammu and Kashmir during the current tourist season. “Both the Directorates have been asked to utilize 20% of their annual budget for FAM (familiarization) tour to popularize tourist destinations of all the three regions of the State”, he further said.


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