75 villages to be transformed into tourist villages to strengthen rural economy, community entrepreneurship: LG
Srinagar: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Friday launched J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth. The initiative is aimed at transforming 75 villages of the UT known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance into tourist villages, an official press release informed.
Speaking on the occasion, the LG said that the youth-led sustainable tourism initiative will strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Highlighting the objectives of the initiative, the LG, according to the press release, observed that the UT government is adopting best practices recognizing the uniqueness of each village and showcasing the landscapes, indigenous knowledge systems, cultural diversity and heritage, local values and traditions, besides encouraging film shooting and offering financial incentives as well as ensuring a digital platform to all these villages.
Emphasizing on harnessing the potential of the younger population and making them self-reliant, the LG reiterated government’s commitment to provide maximum and equal opportunities to youth from different backgrounds and enabling their involvement in policies that affect them.
“We are addressing the needs of our youth and responding to the innovative ideas to build a strong future,” he added.
“This scheme can simultaneously address the challenge of global warming and unemployment. Youth will be our brand ambassador for green tourism making the development more sustainable while bringing prosperity to the community,” observed the LG.
He said that under Mission Youth’s initiative, registered youth and Self Help Groups are being provided with the opportunity to be a part of the government’s endeavor to transform the villages of J&K.
“Young generation has acquired a position of primary importance in the government’s policies. With strategic planning and capacity building for hand holding of youth, the UT administration is working towards building self-confidence in youth to be enterprising.
“We are scaling up the sectors important for the youth to ensure that young individuals willing to start his or her own business gets sufficient financial support and are able to fulfill their dream,” added the LG.
Apart from promoting eco- and agri-tourism, traditional performing art, and adventure tourism for creating a rural tourism circuit, the LG called upon all stakeholders, government departments, PRIs, and local communities, to work as a single unit for seamless implementation on the ground.
He suggested four broader areas for promotional activities including farm stays, eco-tourism, wildlife tourism, and tribal tourism. Simultaneously, there is also a need to train the youth in public-private, community partnership models, he added.
The LG advised for exploring modalities of PPP model, besides promoting value addition and focusing on convergence of schemes for paving a strong foundation for developing sustainable tourism ecosystem.
The Deputy Commissioners were directed to put dedicated focus on ensuring that the financial support is being extended to the eligible candidates to meet the objectives of the scheme, the press release said.
“Today, J&K is at the top position in the country in terms of tourist influx. In the month of July, around 10.5 lakh tourists visited J&K and the figure reached 11.22 lakh in August. I hope and believe that soon, villages of the UT will make their way in the list of the top 10 tourist villages of the country,” the LG said.
HE advised the CEO Mission Youth to work in collaboration with the Tourism department for utilizing the resources available under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP), where 45 villages of Jammu and Kashmir were planned to be developed as tourist villages.
Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, speaking on the occasion, stressed on the need to create an inclusive ecosystem to bring the villages of J&K to the tourism map.
Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, CEO Mission Youth gave a detailed overview of the J&K Tourist Village Network program.
He informed that special initiatives and subsidies are being offered to encourage film shooting and creating tourism facilities under the scheme. The initiative has been integrated with J&K Film Policy, he added.
Bhupendra Kainthola, Director, Film & Television Institute of India, in his address, informed about the FTII’s endeavours to promote film sector in J&K.