JK Tourism Conclave in Mumbai: Coordinated efforts needed to counteract media-made negative perception: Ganai
Mumbai, March 26: Underlining the need for changing media-made public perception about of Jammu and Kashmir, Advisor to Governor, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai todd the country’s leading tour operators to start sending tourists to J&K so that they relish the State’s diverse splendour. Ganai was speaking at an impressive ‘Tourism Conclave’ jointly organized by the J&K Tourism Department, Hoteliers Club J&K and Maharashtra Tour Operators Association here. The Advisor while appreciating the warmth extended by the Tour Operators from Gujarat and Maharashtra to the delegates from J&K promised better packaged and improved facilities for the tourists visiting the State that offers refreshing vistas in pilgrim, heritage and leisure tourism. Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Sampheal; Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Nisar Ahmad Wani; Director, Tourism Jammu, O P Bhagat; President, Maharashtra Tour Operators Association (MTOA), Sudhir Patil, Chairman, J&K Hoteliers Club Mushtaq A Chaya, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Sheikh Ashiq and other delegates also addressed the Conclave. Around 40 delegates from all the three regions of the state represented J&K at the Conclave which also saw presence of Bollywood actors Shahbaz Khan, Imran Khan, Muzamil Ibrahim and others. “We are here to reassure you that Kashmir is as safe for tourists as any part of the country and it is only because of the sustained unconstructive media campaigns that a negative perception is being created about Kashmir,” Ganai said and added that a series of similar events are being organized across the country to dispel these flimsy apprehensions about Kashmir and facilitate tourists to enjoy the splendour and hospitality of the State. “We have started with Mumbai as J&K gets bulk of its tourists from the western part of the country,” said Ganai adding that the Government is planning a Tourism Conclave in Srinagar around the Tulip Festival next month. “Every winter is followed by spring and Kashmir is also entering the spring with the Tulip Festival next month. He said the blossoming of tulips was delayed this year because of the heavy snowfall resulting in extended cold conditions,” he said. “We want tourist to come and be our guests. We will do everything, possible make your stay comfortable and safe,” he said and added that he was overwhelmed by the response and sentiment of the tourism and travel players in Mumbai towards Jammu and Kashmir and its people. Ganai said while Kashmir, with its lush green valleys and meadows, continues to be a star attraction, flow of tourists to Ladakh and Jammu has also grown considerably. He said besides the huge influx of pilgrim tourists to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, steps have been taken to promote Jammu as an independent leisure destination. “Ladakh is an enchanting land that has attracted tourists, especially foreigners, to its vast unexplored expanse,” he said and added that recently some new tourist places and trekking routes were declared open in Ladakh to add variety to the existing tourist attractions in the region. Stressing upon the tour operators to coordinate with their local counterparts in offering attractive family packages, Ganai said the tour operators as the most important link between the state and the visitors. Expressing gratitude to tour and travel players in promoting J&K during its most-troubled times, Ganai said the State is also working to highlight its rich pilgrim, heritage and culture in the State. “We will showcase heritage sites of all the three regions so that the visitors are able to see new places of interest in the State,” he added. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Sampheal elaborated in detail the unique tourist attractions in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. He said the Department is getting lot of inquiries for shooting of films and some big events are in the pipeline. Speaking on the occasion, Sudhir Patil, President, Maharashtra Tour Operators association (MTOA) said Maharashtra and J&K have traditionally been very connected with each other as far as the tourism industry is concerned. “J&K has the privilege of receiving the highest number of travellers from the State of Maharashtra. J&K, which is number one tourism destination as for as its pristine beauty is concerned, enjoys full support from the people of Maharashtra and also by its Bollywood filmmakers for long,” he said. He said virgin beauty of Kashmir has attracted hundreds of filmmakers and the iconic films the Bollywood industry has ever produced since 1960s. More than 200 travel agents/tour operator/destination management companies/tourism promoters from Maharashtra and Gujarat participated in the event to show their support for the tourism sector of the J&K State.