As J&K launched a road show, in the capital recently, Secretary Farooq Shah said that their focus was on attracting domestic clientèle. The state has mooted some interesting engagements like monthly festival to keep the discerning traveller coming back for more.
Calling his state the crown of the ‘Incredible India’, Farooq Shah asserted that J&K had all the ingredients to become the best destination in the country. Sharing that the focus of the state was going to be on engaging with domestic clientèle, he reasoned that “when we have a domestic market of over 1.2 billion people, why do we need to look at foreign markets.” Another reason for this approach was the fact that a lot of countries regularly issued travel advisory for J&K which belied the true state of affairs, he said. Explaining that the event ‘See J&K in a New Light’ was aimed at creating awareness about their vast tourism products and consistent improvement in the quality of experience, he told us, “We are in midst of a comprehensive upgradation of infrastructure which will definitely enhance visitor’s experience. Besides, upgrading our road network and Jammu airport, we are also working towards having an array of top-notch hotels to fill the gaps in our hospitality offerings.”
In its new avatar, the state has mooted monthly festivals with wide-ranging themes, attracting art-lovers, foodies and other aficionados. “The monthly festival will help sustain the momentum in our efforts to attract tourists with plethora of interests,” Farooq Shah said.
Its foray into niche segments like adventure activities is likely to gain more traction with it playing the host to the National winter games. “This winter, we are going to organize National winter games in Gulmarg; most likely in the last week of February; we have not been able to finalize dates, as of now, because of less snowfall. But, we will finalize it by the next week, for sure,” he assured us. “Promotion of winter sports and related destinations are our key objectives,” added the secretary.
J&K, known for some of the most exhilarating snow-capped peaks, has been attempting to have more of them opened for tourist activities – which require a go ahead from the Home Ministry. The secretary informed us that “some of them have already been thrown open for tourists. Some other areas with mountains, that tourists have shown interest in, are being looked at. We are in constant touch with the Home Ministry for the same,” he detailed. Adding that tourists who were seeking newer experiences were increasing in numbers, he said that the state would leave no stone unturned in meeting their expectations.
He also highlighted some of the recent inductions like the commencement of helicopter service which was gaining traction among tourists. “Our competitive pricing has helped it in making it a popular attraction,” he said. Also, the launch of ‘hop-on-hop-of’ bus service has given a much needed shot in the arm to local travel in Srinagar. The recently initiated service is covering important tourist sites like the Mughal Garden, Hazratbal Shrine, Cheshma Shahi and Botanical gardens. “We plan to launch it for Jammu, too,” said the secretary.
Interestingly, the state is also pitching to highlight its utterly unique repository of over two thousand high-altitude lakes which could prove to be the next big thing for the state’s tourism.