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Efforts underway to make J&K most preferred tourist destination: LG

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Mansar Rejuvenation plan takes off

Srinagar: Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Sunday said his administration is working on a strategic plan for development of the tourism sector to make the union territory the most preferred tourist destination in the country.

Sinha was speaking after inaugurating virtually the Comprehensive Mansar Rejuvenation and Development Plan worth Rs 198.37 crore in the presence of Union minister Jitendra Singh, an official spokesperson said.

“The UT Government is working on a strategic plan for growth and development of tourism sector. With numerous heritage sites, world-class infrastructure and promotion of adventure sports, we can achieve the tag of India’s most preferred tourist destination,” Sinha said.

He said Jammu and Kashmir has the potential to become a preferred tourist destination and this sector can support a much higher employment work force.

According to an official press release, LG Manoj Sinha, in presence of MoS, PMO, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh today laid foundation stone of Comprehensive Mansar Rejuvenation/Development Plan worth Rs. 198.37 crores through virtual mode.

It said the LG observed that the project aims at increasing tourists’ influx which will facilitate the socio-economic development of the area, and generate more employment opportunities for the locals.

“We are also expanding the skill development programme for hospitality industry so that tourists have a positive experience of travelling and enjoying the hospitality of our Union territory,” he added.

“Jammu and Kashmir has abundant wealth in terms of water-bodies. The government is working rigorously for conservation and preservation of these water-bodies and is taking comprehensive measures for restoring their ecosystem,” said the LG.

“Mansar and Surinsar are the most sought after tourist destinations visited by the tourists in Jammu. It is in the close vicinity of from Katra, Holy City of Mata Vaishno Devi where more than 1.00 crore pilgrims from all parts of the country and abroad visit on yearly basis. Mansar is of immense importance from pilgrimage as well as heritage point-of-view besides being the most scenic attraction due to vast Mansar lake and its wildlife sanctuary and flora and fauna. The implementation of its Rejuvenation/Development Plan will certainly bring Mansar on the world tourism map,” Sinha added.

“Comprehensive Mansar Rejuvenation/Development Plan after its implementation shall provide a big boost towards increase in the number of tourists/pilgrims from around 10 lakhs in the year 2019-2020 to 20 lakhs; employment generation of around 1.15 crore approximately; income generation of approximately Rs 800 crore per year; development of Mansar and its surrounding hamlets in terms of socio-economic upliftment and better future of the residents of the locals- collectively bringing Mansar on the world tourism map,” said the LG.

He said the UT government has approved Rs 16.50 crore under CAPEX budget against 13 components and the remaining components will be completed under Central government’s SWADESH DARSHAN. We are targeting to complete the project within a period of five years, he said.

“Tourism contributes about 7 percent of the GDP of Jammu Kashmir; the revival of tourism sector is our top-most priority; new policies will help in value creation and profitability for the local businesses,” he said.

In the last two months, Sinha said the UT government, in consultation with officers and stakeholders, is working on bringing tourist spots of J&K in world tourism map. “We are implementing the recommendations made by the committee constituted in the month of August for development of tourism sector and for the welfare of all those associated with the sector,” he continued.

Highlighting various initiatives taken for the growth and development of tourism sector in J&K, the LG observed that the tourism department has also framed a policy for seeking investment in the tourist destinations and areas where the tourism potential is yet to be fully explored.

Under the tourism policy, various incentives in addition to the ones already covered under industrial policy have been proposed to be provided to the new investment in this sector.

“A pilgrimage circuit covering Shivkhori -Uttarbehni-Purmandal and Sukrala Mata is also being developed with UT and Central government. Under ‘SWADESH DARSHAN’, 4 circuits covering 33 locations are being developed in Jammu division with the cumulative cost of Rs. 201.96 cr. The works are at advanced stage of completion and are targeted to be completed by 31st March, 2021. The major tourist destinations in the 4 circuits are Mantalai, Sudhmahadev, Kishtwar, Lakhanpur-Sarthal, Poonch and Rajouri,” the LG maintained.

Besides, light and sound show at Bagh-e-Bahu is also under execution at a cost of Rs 10.82 crore and the project is likely to be completed by December 2020. “We are also focusing on water-based tourism and in this regard water sports equipment including cruize boats have been procured and commissioned at Pull Doda , Baglihar and Ranjit Sagar Dam at a cost of Rs 6.83 crore,” the LG said.

A project for development of adventure tourism in Jammu Division has been also formulated and approved by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore.

Under Central government’s ‘PRASAD’ scheme, Thanda Paani, Sunderbani, Ganga Ghaat in Rajouri will be developed. We are working on the development of Shakti Dhaam of Amba Khori, Sinha said.

Project for improvement of Raghunath Bazar and its surrounding areas has been also formulated at a cost of Rs. 14.15 crore and submitted to Central government for funding. The project for development of Katra as iconic religious tourist destination is also under preparation under Central sector scheme PRASAD at an estimated cost of Rs. 50 crore, he added.

The LG said that the development of religious tourism is also one of the focus areas of the government. To facilitate the devotees of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, online darshan, home delivery of Pooja Prasad and App have been launched.

“We have also simplified the movement of tourists, in and out of J&K. COVID Rapid Anti-gen Tests were done at airports in J&K with collective efforts of Tourism department, Airport Authority and Health department. Help Desk has also been established at the airports for the assistance of the tourists,” he said.

“The necessary standard operating procedures in line with system for assessment, awareness and training for hospitality industry have also been framed and circulated among various stakeholders so that the economic activity is gradually re-started while strictly following the COVID-protocol. Tourism department is continuously spreading awareness amongst the tourist service providers regarding COVID precautionary measures,” said the LG.

As far as creation of robust database of hospitality units are concerned, under NIDHI scheme of Union Ministry of Tourism, “we have uploaded data of 138 hotels, 59 guest-houses, 2 resorts, 13 home stays, 47 lodges, 303 houseboats on the official portal of the National Database for Accommodation Units,” he added.

“The Central government has allocated Rs 706 crore for tourism sector which will go a long way for revival of tourism infrastructure,” observed the LG.

Speaking on the occasion, MoS, PMO, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh highlighted the significance of the prestigious “Comprehensive Mansar Rejuvenation/Development Plan” and said that the entire area of Mansar Lake and its surrounding premises will be developed as a multi-purpose destination, which could attract visitors of various interests.

It aims at boosting the socio-economic development of Jammu region. The plan includes upgradation of existing facilities and development of new projects aimed at increasing the annual tourist footfall to 20 lakhs once completed, said the Union Minister.

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