REMINDER TO STAKEHOLDERS

While the snowfall in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir during winter leads to multiple problems for the common people, at the same time it is a reminder to the stakeholders of the Tourism and Travel sector to initiate multiple measures for promotion of winter tourism be it adven- ture tourism or winter sports and other related activi- ties that have the potential of attracting tourists not only from across the nation but from all over the world. While the pandemic period had provided the opportunity to establish the requisite infrastructure for tourism including winter tourism besides properly developing the multiple destinations having rich potential to be showcased as tourist destinations but the same was not utilized by the concerned authori- ties and stakeholders. The result is that this sector continues to be in doldrums even today despite other developmental works going on at unprecedented pace. The winter attraction for tourists can comprise a variety of programmes to enjoy including the colour- ful lights and melodious sound presentations. Even for a normal tourist, witnessing the dancing snow- flakes coming down from the sky is no less than a passion. While tourism has a lot to offer to the visitors in this UT round the year, the winter tourism, be it in Kashmir or Jammu region’s upper reaches has undoubtedly the full potential of providing the tourists exceptional experience. It is a fact that Jammu and Kashmir is a Union Territory blessed with bounty of tourist destinations in both the regions be it Valley or Jammu. As a result of this blessing Tourism is a sub- stantial component of the economy of this UT. There is a need for exploring ways to improve smartness of destinations that can improve competitiveness in the context of all the tourist destinations in all seasons of the year. Tourist destinations here need to offer smart solutions in leisure, transport, hospitality and busi- nesses for comfort of our visitors. Despite sounding quite simple, it is not easy but a herculean task espe- cially given the past experience regarding tourism related issues. Since this sector is directly related to economy of this sector therefore to begin with, the Tourism department must emphasize on collecting the relevant data and integrating villages falling with- in the jurisdiction of various leisure destinations into the concept plan that can spread the economic boost due to Tourism boom over larger areas of the Union Territory. The past experience has shown that not only have we failed to transform the plans on ground as desired but we have even failed to safeguard the existing tourist destinations that are famous across the globe and major attractions for both national and international tourists. Most of the tourist destinations have already been adversely affected due to growing human influx resulting not only in pollution but in the clustering of concrete structures around these desti- nations in the form of hotels and business complex- es. The world famous Dal Lake today stands reduced to a minion in view of the encroachment of the lake by irresponsible citizens in a race to raise countless hotels after filling various areas of the lake and the tourist destinations across Jammu crave attention for getting upgraded to global standards. Though the UT Administration has been making sincere efforts in this direction by organizing winter carnivals at multi- ple locations across the Union Territory yet a lot more needs to be done. It is high time for the stakeholders of this sector especially the government to shoulder the responsibility of achieving the objective to give Tourism and Travel industry a complete image makeover by transforming the existing destinations into world class Winter Tourism destinations. Besides this the Govt must simultaneously initiate proactive measures to develop other destinations having ample potential for Winter Tourism across the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory so that Jammu and Kashmir finds place among the choicest Winter Tourist Destinations across the globe.