We have always believed that community participation and ethical and sustainable measures are critical to the longevity and success of any destination or tourism product. After all, it is difficult to imagine a destination maintain its pull, in the long-term, in absence of active involvement of the local community. World over, countries and communities are waking up to challenges of over-exposure and over-grazing, and are taking measures to arrest the downward slide in the environment and the quality of experience. TourismFirst, as a principle, affirms to the same spirit and advocates social participation for improving surroundings, not for tourism, but for locals and for a better quality of life. Tourism comes as an automatic outcome if the local community is engaged and adopts sustainable measures as a way of life.
In a development reflecting a similar ideal, a commendable initiative was undertaken by the J& K Hoteliers Club (Gulmarg Chapter) which initiated a massive plantation drive in Gulmarg and Tangmarg. The aim of the initiative is to plant a whopping 300000 trees in these two districts of Baramulla. The effort is being ably supported by all administrative departments of the Gulmarg Development Authority, along with the local municipality, police, and forest department.
Elucidating, speaking exclusively to TourismFirst, Mukhtar Ahmad, President, Gulmarg Hotels Association shared that the idea behind the drive was “to bring more beauty to the region and sustain it for the year to come.” “We want to attract tourists in the region, but sadly numbers have taken a massive dip in the past two years. We hope that with the plantation drive, the national media will find something positive to report. Efforts such as these bring stakeholders together and add to the charm of the place,” he said.
At a time when the valley is struggling to attract tourists, despite a major part of it being unaffected by political unrest and instability, the development is likely to bring spotlight to the region for all the right reasons, and, hopefully, tourism will kickstart again.