Mumbai: The Centre along with the Jammu and Kashmir government will be investing Rs 2400 crore over the next five years to give a boost to tourism in the picturesque state with a focus on unexplored and new regions like Kargil.
“We are putting a major thrust on the tourism industry and will invest Rs 2,400 crore in the next five years,” Secretary, Tourism (J&K) Farooq Shah said here speaking on the sidelines of an event last night to promote tourism in his state.
“Of this, Rs 2,000 crore will be spent by the Centre and rest by the state government. Apart from this, private sector is investing in a big way. We have international and national hotel chains. Le Meridian, The Sheraton Group and ITC is making hotels, while Ramada (group of hotels) is already has its presence in Kashmir,” he said.
There are many historical sites across the state which are yet to be explored. We have urged tour operators (from Maharashtra also) to promote such regions (including Kargil) in their packages, he said.
Shah said from heritage sites to adventure sports Kashmir has everything and has no competitors in the country as far as tourism is concerned.
“We are the best in the country and have no competitors. As far as infrastructure is concerned, there is enough of it. We are the best golfing destination, we are the best heritage destination, best shopping and our cuisine is world famous. We have Jammu which is a pilgrim site. Kashmir is the paradise on earth and Ladakh offers best adventure sports. So J&K in itself is a world,” he added.
Maintaining that Kashmir is as “safe” as any part of the country, he urged tourists to visit ‘India’s own Switzerland’.
“Jammu and Kashmir is as safe as any part of the country. People need not go to Europe and spent money. They should visit our own Switzerland which is Kashmir.”
Echoing similar views, Haji Inayat Ali, Chairman J&K Legislative Council, said, “Things are different from what is portrayed in media. Tourists are always safe there. Even during peak of militancy, tourists were never troubled.”
Also, we cannot have heavy industries in the region. Tourism is the only industry that can thrive there and provide employment to youth, Ali added. Present at the event were host of dignitaries and tour operators from J&K and Maharashtra.