A Jammu and Kashmir minister has appealed to former chief minister Omar Abdullah to leverage his fan following on social media to counter “negative publicity by a section of national electronic media” against Kashmir and help promote tourism in the Valley. The appeal was made by Minster for Public Works Naeem Akhtar, who is also a government spokesman, yesterday while speaking as a chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony of the 7th J-K Golfers Association Tournament at Pahalgam Golf Course in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Describing Omar as a social media leader, Akhtar said the former chief minister has a huge fan following on social media, especially Twitter, and he should lead by way of engaging and encouraging the younger generation on social media for creating a positive perception about the Valley. “We have immense tourism potential which has remained untapped due to many reasons, including the way in which a section of national electronic media is portraying Kashmir. But we can counter that through social media,” he said.
“Nowadays, people are using social media heavily and we should capitalise this for our benefit and all of us must join this campaign against defaming Kashmir,” the minister said. He said Kashmiris have to win the war of perception by making tourists believe that people here are tourist-friendly, hospitable and the place is also safe. “It is our collective responsibility to win the war of perception. I congratulate you for participating in the golf tournament and keeping the tourism alive in your own way. We have to organise more such programmes to attract not only golfers but other tourists too,” he said. Akhtar said the state is blessed with stunning golf courses in Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Jammu and Ladakh which need to be vigorously promoted.
The minister said the government was making all out efforts to build tourism infrastructure across the state. “Now reaching Anantnag from Srinagar will take less than one hour as the national highway with all its bye-passes will be ready by September. We will be building and upgrading requisite infrastructure for public and which will also help the tourism sector,” he said. Akhtar said road upgradation has been started from Seer to Pahalgam and Seer to Ashmuqam via Hapatnar. “The execution will facilitate the locals and help tourism sector grow,” he added.