Farooq Shah – who has previously served as the MD, JKTDC; MD, J&K Cable Car Corporation, and CEO Gulmarg Development Authority – has been re-appointed as Secretary Tourism, J&K. Instrumental in bringing tourism into the mainstream in the valley in 2006, he, in an exclusive interview to TF, has reiterated his commitment to making the state the leader in tourism in the country. Remembering Mufti senior for his vision and guidance in transforming the state as a top tourist draw, he said that much of the proposed infrastructural development was already underway. He expressed confidence that “under the new CM’s leadership, we will carry forward the vision laid down by Mufti Sahab.”
Adding that the major challenge for the state lay in establishing itself as one of the most sought after destination in the world, he said “we will leave no stone unturned to make that happen. You will find the state participating in every major tourism promotion event – whether it is a road-show or a travel expo.”
Taking stock of infrastructural development, he shared that the much-awaited construction of a four lane National Highway, linking Srinagar and Jammu, was expected to be completed on time. Noting that Srinagar was already linked to various cities of the country with 34 flights, he said that six more flights were going to be added in the coming months.
J&K was in midst of a major hotel capacity enhancement. Some major branded hotels were constructing properties in Srinagar. “The ITC Group is constructing a hotel. Accor will unveil a number of hotels in coming years. We are also in talks with IRCTC to come up a property. Therefore, the grave omission of not having enough branded accommodation is being adequately addressed,” he said.
“We had recently initiated a chopper service which has become a huge hit. We are going to privatize it in the coming days. The state will unveil new projects through Swiss Challenge to ensure that maximum returns are achieved out of investments,” said Farooq Shah.