Rituparna Chatterjee – Mumbai
Jammu & Kashmir Tourism is focusing on golf, MICE and adventure tourism to attract more international and domestic tourists into the destination. For the same, several infrastructure development projects have been initiated. Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Farooq A Shah, IAS, secretary tourism, Government of Jammu & Kashmir and managing director, J&K Tourism Development Corporation stated, “We want to position ourselves as a high-end tourism destination and hence we are going to focus on golf promotion. We have world-class golf courses like Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar, Gulmarg Golf Course, among others. A 18 hole golf course in Jammu is being upgraded to international level.” He added, “For MICE, we are one of the best destinations globally. We have the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conferences Center (SKICC) and other convention centres in Pahalgam, Gulmarg, etc. We are going to have a convention centre in Jammu as well.”
Moreover, 2016 has been declared as the year of adventure tourism for Jammu & Kashmir. Shah informed, “Gulmarg has been ranked as one of the most affordable skiing destinations in the world and has the world’s highest skiing point. We are creating facilities for mountaineering, trekking, paragliding. For instance, we are coming up with world-class paragliding centres at Sanasar in Jammu, etc. We have recently started heli services from Srinagar-Gulamarg and from Srinagar-Pahalgam. We have also started heli skiing at Gulmarg this year.” River cruising will also begin from April 2016 onwards at Dal Lake, Srinagar, etc, he informed.
Sharing arrival figures, Shah said, “We received three million pilgrims for Mata Vaishno Devi this year. From January to December 2015, we got around 9.20 lakh tourists to Kashmir and about two lakh to Ladakh.”