Webinar discusses road ahead for tourism industry in Jammu

Excelsior Correspondent

Jammu, Aug 10: Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) today organized a webinar titled ‘Jammu Tourism: Opportunities & Challenges.’ The webinar aimed at deliberating on the issues concerning travel and hospitality sector in Jammu division.
Speaking on the occasion, Subhash Goyal, Honorary Secretary FAITH said, “Jammu has a lot of places of tourist interest and should be developed as the base of the tourist circuits.”
Rajesh Gupta, Chairman Tourism Federation Jammu mentioned, “Union Territory of J&K has twenty districts, all of which have potential to attract tourists. In this new regime, we are hoping for equitable development and promotion, also of the completion of languishing projects.”
Ajay Khajuria, Former Director Tourism Jammu noted, “The Jammu region is dotted with meadows, peaks, valleys, and forests. Foreign tourists looking for culture and heritage can be attracted towards Jammu, especially in winters. For instance, they can be made aware about Basohli, the home of world renowned miniature paintings, or the well crafted architectural gems across region, or Akhnoor, the northern most point of Indus valley civilization and also a Buddhist site.”
According to Rakesh Wazir, President Hotel & Restaurant Association Katra said, “Jammu is one of those regions, which offer almost all of the kinds of tourism people can associate themselves with, such as religious tourism (Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Shiv Khori, Sukrala Mata, Buddha Amarnath ji, Machail Mata, etc), recreational tourism (Patnitop, Sanasar, Mansar-Surinsar, Bhaderwah, etc), and so on.” He recalled Parvez Dewan’s contribution in enhancing tourist footfall in Jammu by promoting and developing several places.
Dr Lalit Gupta, Historian Jammu, talked about how people have short length of stay in Jammu. “Those visiting Amar Mahal Museum see ‘golden throne’, but do not proceed to look at Damyanti miniatures, which are a prized collection at the museum. Even the taxi drivers catering to tourists complain that ‘Jammu Darshan is barely half day affair.”
Parikshit Manhas, Prof Jammu University, said, “There are keydrivers related to tourist places and their promotion, such as accessibility, ancillary services, amenities, tourism infrastructure, branding, etc. Sadly, we have not been able to attach value to tourists’ money. People need to be made aware of security aspect and that the name is Jammu and Kashmir. Also, when ideating something for tourism, all the stakeholders, from industry to academia should be involved.”
Owis Altaf Syed, Director Skyview Patnitop by Empyrean Jammu, said, “Jammu also lot of nature trails, small hill stations which have never really been spoken about or promoted. We need to capture it, and promote it aggressively.”
Arvind Kotwal, Ex CEO SMDA, Ex Dy Dir Tourism Jammu said, “Things have changed drastically for the tourism and hospitality sector with COVID having put an end to travel and leisure. Now onwards till the foreseeable future and till the time COVID doesn’t get out of the way we cannot expect the elderly to travel. It’s the younger people, the millennial who will venture out to travel. The marketing strategy has to be evolved accordingly. The use of social media and digital platforms to market our destinations is need of the hour as youngsters rely on social media for information.”
Furthermore, Deepika K Sharma, Executive Director Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society said, “The packages need to be devised in a way that people go around the region. The inflow of tourists is already there, we need to manage them well. Development has been an issue.”
Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General (Tourism) Government of India remarked, “We can only work towards a future. The roadmap for the future has to be planned together by central ministry and local administration. Development of eco-system of the place and its tourist footfall go hand in hand. The J&K UT should work on land banks for hotel industry. Webinars are not the end, they are to create curiosity and excitement among people. We need to tap various media platforms and remind people here is a place Jammu, which is beautiful and worthy of visit.”
In his closing remarks, Subhash Goyal stated that the authorities and concerned stakeholders of tourism can start a committee ‘Jammu travel mart’ or Jammu tourism mart’ and work in a time-bound and result-oriented manner.