Kashmir government plans to boost sports tourism

January 17th, 2009 - 4:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Jan 17 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir government is planning to boost sports tourism and involve private business enterprises in reviving the hospitality industry in the state but is worried about international advisories against visiting the troubled region.Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said that government was trying to put the state back as a hot spot on the tourism global map by “providing world class facilities” to visitors.

“We will give incentives in terms of loans and subsidies to local tourist traders to provide facilities like good accommodation, food etc,” Jora said.

The minister said local traders could go in for collaboration with experts from outside the state so as to improve the standards of facilities.

“But I do not favour the outsiders controlling the whole (industry) nor does state’s special (constitutional) status allow that. The revenue must go to private sector and hence to the locals,” Jora told IANS.

“The government had no business to be in business of making money where it hardly succeeds,” he said, adding public sector units have not provided facilities up to the standards that private enterprises have done.

The tourism industry, he said, had great potential of employment opportunities for locals.

He said the government was planning to come out of conventional tourism beats and lay emphasis on golf and skiing.

“The state has world class avenues for golf and skiing, which can attract both domestic and foreign tourists. But in this connection my worry is the international advisories against visiting the area. I am planning to take it up at appropriate levels,” he said.

The minister was, however, hopeful of good tourist season this year.

“The peaceful conduct of elections have already sent a message from the people of Jammu and Kashmir that they are warmly waiting for tourists,” he said.

Jora said he would try to develop the unexplored picnic spots in the state and wanted visitors not to restrict themselves to conventional places like Pahalgam and Gulmarg resorts. “Every inch of Jammu and Kashmir can be explored. I want people to see new places.”

Jora said that the Jammu region receives over seven million pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. “Even if we are able to tap 10 percent of them to visit tourist places around it would be a big achievement.”

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