ZT Special Report
This week Ziraat Times brings to its readers perspectives of tourism industry leaders from Jammu & Kashmir on what this exclusion means for the state and what needs to be done to bring tourism back on rails in the state.
Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has identified 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development under the new initiative Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project. This project is part of the plan unveiled in Budget 2018-19, for which budgetary provisions have also been made.
Interestingly, Jammu & Kashmir neither figures as a cluster, nor any of the state’s historic sites have been made part of the Iconic Tourist Sites project.
The states whose seventeen sites have been identified for the Iconic Tourist Sites project are:
• Uttar Pradesh – Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri;
• Maharashtra- Ajanta & Ellora;
• Delhi- Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort & Qutub Minar;
• Goa- Colva beach;
• Rajasthan – Amer Fort;
• Gujarat- Somnath & Dholavira;
• Madhya Pradesh- Khajuraho;
• Karnataka- Hampi;
• Tamil Nadu- Mahabalipuram;
• Assam- Kaziranga;
• Kerala- Kumarakom;
• Bihar- Mahabodhi
The government intends to develop these sites in what it calls a holistic
manner, with focus on issues concerning connectivity to the destination,
better facilities/experience for the tourists at the site, skill development, the involvement of local community, promotion & branding and by bringing in private investment.
The monuments taken up for development under the above-mentioned project fall under the jurisdiction of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
and State Archaeology Departments. Tourism Ministry plans to carry out interventions at these monuments in collaboration with the ASI and respective state governments.
Industry leaders speak:
Chairman, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Kashmir Chapter
I think its very unfortunate that the place that should be considered as No. 1 tourist destination and that needs to be promoted isn’t part of any such cluster.
Kashmir is the only destination on the map where people can spend more than a month and visit and explore such beautiful places. We had a meeting with the commissioner secretary a day back and we have already requested them to ensure us to safeguard the tourism industry that is collapsing and in crisis these days.
We are hopeful for a positive changes.
Chairman, Nigeen Tourist Traders Association (NTTA)
The Tourism Carrying capacity of major tourist resorts like Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg etc is limited.
Govt. must explore new tourist destinations to put them on the tourism map in order to limit the footfall and ease out the stress on these major tourist places. There is no dearth of places in J&K that has the potential to be the iconic sites or tourism clusters.
We urge Govt. to consider putting alteast 4-5 unexplored tourist spots from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh on the tourist map.
Convenor, Environmental Policy Group (EPG)
The state of affairs of tourism industry in Kashmir is very disappointing. Not only the concern about declining tourist footfall but the
infrastructure at tourist destinations is crumbling. It is not even what existed decades ago but has significantly deteriorated. The mechanism of disposal of Solid and liquid waste almost at all the tourist areas/destinations is either non-existent or working much below the prescribed standards. This despite the fact that post 2014- floods an amount of 2000 Crores was sanctioned for upgrading tourism infrastructure in public sector.
This amount could have been spent on upgrading this deteriorating infrastructure or put in a robust mechanism in place. That is not happening. The Supreme Court, The National Green Tribunal and the J&K High Court has passed a series of orders for installation of infrastructure for scientific disposal of Solid and liquid waste with no tangible result.Gulmarg, Pahalgham, Sonamarg, Srinagar, Dal Lake , Dodhpathri, Nilnagh, Yusmarg, Manasbal etc are crying for attention.
There already are 22 Development Authorities created for development of new destinations and upgradation of existing Tourist destinations but the destinations old and new continue to be properly and aesthetically developed which is a matter of serious concern.Our once iconic and acknowledged among the most reputed and beautiful Moghul gardens look like any other garden around.
Under these circumstances non inclusion of the State for iconic tourist sites, though disappointing, it would be wisdom to maintain, upgrade and restore the original condition of our heritage and other tourist destinations necessary to continue to remain on the global tourism map.
Chairman, Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Alliance
Promotional budget has been increased and that will help to boost tourism like it does but not considering any place for iconic site among the 17 sites is not a good thing.
It would have sent a positive message out if one model from our state would have been part of it.
We cannot sell hospitality only, we have places that have potential in itself but like always this is not taken as priority.
Junior Vice President KHARA
Tourism isn’t priority for them right now.
There was supposed to be some tourism specific package. We all stakeholders make efforts at our end but this was something everyone in the industry was looking forward.
Gen Sec J&K Hoteliers Club (Gulmarg chapter)
Its very disheartening to know that we aren’t part of this tourism cluster. Earlier there was Incredible India campaign and they didn’t count Kashmir that time as well.
They say it’s Integral part of the country but when it comes to practicality, nothing happens on ground. There are still people who don’t know we have skiing in India.
This could have given major push to the Indian Tourism as well but they have some other priorities.