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8 lakh domestic, 50,000 foreign tourists visited Kashmir this year:Govt

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Srinagar, Dec 25: Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai on Tuesday said that over 8.5 lakh domestic and 50,000 foreign tourists have visited Kashmir this year so far and the hotel occupancy at Gulmarg is almost 100 per cent for the New Year. “The tourist arrivals have picked up and more tourists are comings. The bookings have also picked up which can be gauged from the fact that the Gulmarg is fully packed for New Year. This is very encouraging,” Ganai said.

Ganai said that the government will provide all possible assistance to the tourism stakeholders in their efforts to project Kashmir as world’s top tourism destination.

In an interactive session with tourists and tourism players here on the banks of Dal Lake, Ganai urged the service providers and stakeholders to work towards placing famed Kashmir among the world top tourism destinations by the year 2020. He suggested for introducing effective tourist friendly measures to make the stay of the tourists longer in Kashmir. He also stressed on the need to introduce various attractions such as evening cultural shows among other festivals for extending the nightlife.

 

Stating that Jammu and Kashmir was the safest place for the travellers, Ganai appealed tourists to visit the State—which offers diverse tourism products and unmatched beauty.

Extending greetings to the tourists who had come to celebrate Christmas and new year in Kashmir, the Advisor said for past few months, the tourist footfall here has been encouraging which is the outcome of the untiring promotional activities carried out by the department and by the tour operators.

Ganai said over 8.5 lakh domestic and 50,000 foreign tourists have visited Kashmir this year so far and the hotel occupancy at Gulmarg is almost 100 per cent for the New Year.“The tourist arrivals have picked up and more tourists are comings. The bookings have also picked up which can be gauged from the fact that the Gulmarg is fully packed for New Year. This is very encouraging,” Ganai said.

He also advised travel and tour operators to make a good relationship with the outside state travel agents, tourism promoters. “Travel agents and tour operators must work very hard to convince traveller to visit Kashmir. You have to build upon your contacts and personal relationships with the travel agents from other states who bring tourists here,” he said.

The Advisor also emphasized on providing quality services to the travellers so that they go back with happy memories.
“We are extremely proud of our people whose conduct with tourists is very pleasing. The travel and tour operators are working very hard to bring tourists to Kashmir. We also have to focus on providing the best services to the tourists who will give the best experience to the travellers here in the State,” he said.

Recalling about his recent visit to New Delhi, Ganai said that he has appealed Union Government to make efforts to promote JK Tourism at national and international levels.

Advisor Ganai also exhorted upon the people and the service providers not to compromise on the fragile environment and keep surroundings clean. He stressed on the stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations to come forward and make Kashmir clean and green.
He said that another key issue that comes to the fore was regarding infrastructure. He said at some of the tourist destinations, infrastructure would be given a major facelift.

Director, Department of Tourism, Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani also interacted with the tourist and the service providers on the occasion. He assured full support to the service providers in marketing the State as the best tourist destination of the country.

Wani said tourism department will be aggressively promoting the J&K State in the travel marts and road shows outside the State to attract maximum traveller to the State.


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Kashmir

No threat to Amarnath Yatra, says Joint Hurriyat

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Srinagar, Jun 16: Joint Hurriyat on Sunday said there was no threat to the annual pilgrimage and urged the pilgrims and tourists visiting the state not to pay heed to any “false propaganda”.

They said people of the Valley will continue to retain and nourish the tradition of brotherhood and communal amity. The separatists under the banner of Joint Hurriyat comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yaseen Malik said a few media channels were running a “smear campaign and propaganda” about threat to the Amarnath Yatra and pilgrims in the Valley.

“Kashmiri people have never compromised on their tradition of hospitality, even in the toughest and trying times, and always played a friendly host, whether to a tourist or an Amarnath pilgrim who came to Kashmir,” the separatists said in a statement here.

 

“There is no threat to Amarnath Yatris from Kashmiris as reported by some mischievous media outlets from their cozy studios in New Delhi and these pilgrims are very much safe in the Valley,” it said.

Joint Hurriyat said the tourists and pilgrims visiting Kashmir can tell the “ground reality” and “expose” the sections of media who have adopted a “jingoistic approach” vis-a-vis Kashmir.

The leadership said tourists and Amarnath Pilgrims visiting Kashmir can go places of their choice and tell the actual ground reality to rest of the people across India and also expose these sections of Indian media who have adopted a jingoistic approach vis-a-vis Kashmir just to get their TRPs high.

The leadership said that some brains have always been working behind the scenes and framing policies to keep the people of India away from Kashmir, to be able to promote false propaganda about us and give justification for the reign of terror unleashed by forces and we on behalf of the entire people of Kashmir, Yatris and tourists should feel ensured that there is no threat or danger to their lives from Kashmiri’s and that they can perform their religious rituals without any worry.

The leadership appealed to the pilgrims and tourists not to pay heed to the false propaganda stories being run by a few Delhi-based news channels and instead focus on their Kashmir sojourn without any fear and intimidation.

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Linking employers to skilled youth first charge of Employment Exchanges: Ganai

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Srinagar, Jun 16: Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, today urged the Employment Department to provide all assistance to unemployed educated youth in the State in their hunt for jobs in the ever-expanding domestic and global markets.

He said the focus of employment exchanges should be on vocational guidance and career counseling and these exchanges should link the employer with the registered candidates.

The Advisor made these observations while reviewing the functioning of the Labour & Employment Department and especially the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Yojana (PM-SYM).

 

Commissioner/ Secretary, Labour & Employment, Saurabh Bhagat, Labour Commissioner, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Director, EDI, Tufail Mattoo, Director Employment, Y. P. Suman, Managing Director Women’s Development Corporation, Nahida Soz, CEO, BOCWWB, Peer Muzaffar and all district and sectoral officers of the Labour & Employment Department were present on the occasion.

Asking the Department to take a cue from successful start-ups in the country like paytm, urban clap, housing.com etc, the Advisor said new innovative ideas shall help in establishment of enterprises that have greater scope and market acceptability.

Laying stress upon providing better working conditions to the working class, Ganai stressed upon strict implementation of labour laws to protect the interest of the labour community. He said the officers of the Department should be well-versed with labour laws and new legislations so that they are better enforced in the larger interest of the working and construction class. 

While reviewing the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandhan Yojana, the Advisor asked the Department to closely monitor registration of workers in CICs. He suggested use of random checking to revalidate data which shall plug holes in computing errors while registering eligible persons.

Under PMSYM which offers regular pension to the labour class people after they attain the age of 60, as many as 56,313 registrations had been done and 46,927 cards printed so far in the State.

Presenting a detailed review of the three wings of the Labour & Employment Department, the Administrative Secretary briefed the Advisor about various schemes and welfare programmes launched for educated unemployed youth and the labour community. He informed the meeting about various schemes being implemented through J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI).

The meeting was informed that during 2018-19, as many as 966 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) were registered which comprised 4188 engineers. As many as 2237 works worth Rs.191.54 crore were allotted to these SHGs.

Director EDI informed the meeting about Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SCFS), Youth Start-up Loan Scheme and giving term and education loans to youth through National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation. He said that projects worth Rs. 536.77 crore had been sanctioned under these schemes and as many as 13,464 enterprises were established generating employment for 43192 persons.

While briefing the Advisor about the initiatives on labour welfare, the Labour Commissioner said a payment gateway would soon be launched to make online contributions for the benefit of subscribers. He said concerted efforts are on to register new subscribers and complete the disbursement of backlog claims and make recoveries from the defaulters.

The meeting was informed that all 5.10 lakh Provident Fund accounts had been digitized and the scanning of important subscribers’ documents would be taken up in the next phase.

The Advisor appreciated the role of Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (BOCWWB) in providing financial assistance to workers in the form of education and marriage assistance as well as in case of injury, death and permanent disability of workers.

The meeting was informed that against a corpus of Rs 899.66 crore, Rs. 371.79 crore were disbursed amongst construction workers since 2011. This includes education assistance amounting to Rs 266.82 crore, marriage assistance of Rs. 73.98 crore and death assistance amounting to Rs. 24.82 crore.

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Boulevard bicycle service refuses to pedal on

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Srinagar, Jun 16: The 2017 project to start a bicycle sharing service on the famed Boulevard road here is yet to see the light of the day.

In November 2017, the then minister of state for Housing and Urban development, Asiea Naqash had announced that the bicycle sharing service will be set around Dal Lake and its adjacent areas for tourists as part of the Smart City Project.

She had said that the service will help tourists in exploring the adjoining scenic spots and also generate employment avenues for the locals.

 

However, the service is yet to begun.

“Tourists especially foreigners enjoy experiencing the valley on two wheelers. Even before 90s, they used to rent cycles from private sources to explore Kashmir,” said adventure sports and travel consultant, Rauf Tramboo.

“This service could have proved as a major tourist attraction if started on Boulevard,” said Bashir Ahmad, 50, who runs a Kashmir Art shop at Dalgate.

If it had been started, the service could have been an eco-friendly and healthy solution to decongest the traffic on Boulevard.

The concerned authorities, however, feign ignorance about it.

“This project comes under Srinagar Smart City limited handled by the DC. I have no information regarding the current scenario for this service,” said PRO Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA),  Muhammad Azhar, who, interestingly,  was part of the meeting which addressed the modalities for introducing bicycle sharing back then.

Director tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmed Wani said he was “not aware” of the project.

DC Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary was not available for comments.

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