Jammu and Kashmir all set to become tourism capital of India
The abrogation of Article 370 saw the changing face of Jammu and Kashmir. Reduction in terrorism, end of the political clout of leaders who considered the state their personal property, economic and social development, and many more changes have occurred in J&K and Ladakh in the last two years.
After 2 years of the abrogation of Article 370, Jammu and Kashmir is all set to become the tourism capital of India. The residents of the newly carved out Union Territory are determined to foil the nefarious designs of militants to disrupt the process of peace, prosperity, and development in the valley.
Efforts of the Central Government to convert the UT from ‘terror capital to tourism capital’ are clearly visible. The resolve of the country’s leadership to bring Jammu and Kashmir out of the quagmire of uncertainty is evident. The new era of development that commenced on August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and divided it into two Union Territories — has led to the breaking out of a new dawn in the erstwhile State that has been a victim of Pakistan sponsored militancy for the past three decades.
The Pakistan-sponsored terrorists made a desperate attempt last month to push back Kashmir into uncertainty and chaos by targeting the Hindu minority community there, including the non-local labourers.
The Pakistan-sponsored and trained terrorists killed eleven civilians and made an attempt to drive out minorities and tourists from Kashmir. But the counter-offensive launched by the security forces left 15 militants dead and restored the sense of security within a few days.
The unfortunate civilian killings in Kashmir led to some sort of panic in the initial days and there were apprehensions that the tourism industry may take a hit, but the situation returned to normal within a few days. Hotel bookings witnessed a few cancelations but the buzz came back within no time.
The Jammu & Kashmir administration played an important role to restore normalcy by holding cultural and tourism events and by organizing the “Iconic Week Festival” in October end.
The Union Home Minister Amit Shah‘s Jammu & Kashmir visit sent a clear message to those trying to seek unrest in J&K. This visit was crucial and it boosted the morale of the people and he also assured that the situation won’t be allowed to deteriorate and proved to be a turning point.
After landing in Kashmir, the Union Home Minister flagged off the Srinagar-Sharjah flight. It was a clear message to adversaries that the Government of India won’t allow the handful of militants to take the Valley hostage.
Prior to the commencement of the Srinagar-Sharjah flight, the J&K Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dubai government for the development of the real estate, industrial parks, and other infrastructure in the Union Territory.
Highlighting the significance of the MoU, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal had said that the world has started to recognize the pace with which J&K is traversing on the development bandwagon. “It is a strong signal to the entire world that the way India is transforming into a global power, Jammu & Kashmir is having a significant role in that as well,” Goyal had said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department is all up with new schemes to attract tourists to the place. It announced a 40 percent discount on the room rents in hotels and houseboats. Vice-President of Houseboat Association Kashmir, Manzoor Ahmed Pakhtoon while talking to a news portal stated that the government did the promotions in different parts of the country and held many shows including a houseboat show to promote Kashmir as a safe tourist destination. These initiatives have helped and they are getting a lot of queries Pakthoon said.
At present Kashmir is gearing up for winter tourism, famous resorts, Gulmarg in North Kashmir and Pahalgam in South Kashmir are packed with tourists and more are likely to arrive in the coming months to enjoy the winter in the Valley. People associated with the tourism industry in Kashmir are busy making future plans as they have sniffed that the Valley is set to witness bumper tourism season in the winter. Many hotels in Kashmir are full and the advance bookings are an indication that many tourists have planned to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Kashmir.
In 2020, the early snowfall in Kashmir had led to a high influx of tourists into the Valley.
Thousands of visitors from different parts of the country had visited Gulmarg to celebrate natural Christmas amidst snowfall. This year also they have multiplied the hotel bookings.
The process to build ‘Naya J&K’ irreversible
In 1990, when Kashmiri Hindus were forced to leave the Valley after selective killings, threats, and intimidation. This time around when the ultras turned their guns towards the Hindu minority community of Kashmir, people of Kashmir in one voice condemned these cold-blooded murders and drove home a point that such dastardly acts cannot be tolerated.
More than 70 percent of Kashmir’s economy is dependent on the horticulture and tourism sectors. Militants by targeting non-locals had made an attempt to hit both these vital industries. They wanted to create fear psychosis and recreate a situation like the 1990s.
With the strong political will of the Central govt and the people’s support, the attempt of terrorists to label every Kashmiri as a terrorist didn’t materialize. Kashmir has fought back and it has chosen development. The derailment predicted by the adversary has not happened as the situation has remained well under control.
The message is clear that J&K has changed and the process to build “Naya J&K” is irreversible.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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