In view of the successful tourism year of 2012, Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Association (KHARA) has urged the government to formulate tourism policy for next 15 years to help state’s tourism industry grow.
“Tourism is the only surviving industry after having undergone through turmoil for past more than 23 years. Since now, the state is moving towards stability, it has become imperative to boost this industry by having a proper tourism policy,” reads a vision document of KHARA on sustainable tourism.
It said that J&K is a well recognized tourist destination, however, haphazard growth and concrete construction of hotels and guest houses was proving detrimental for the tourism industry.
“Kashmir is also facing a threat from poor garbage disposal and concrete structures which are in disharmony with the natural environment. Proper development of tourism can be the engine of economic growth and prosperity in the state but a careful planning and infrastructure development is required for which government needs to first come up with a comprehensive tourism,” read the KHARA document.
It also suggested the government to train the locals as tourist guides for the important historical sites, develop adequate parking space at tourist places and mark camping sites in forests.
“Government should also take on board the local tourism experts while framing the policy. The development at the known tourism places has reached to saturation. Government should basic infrastructure including developing roads leading to lesser known tourist spots so that tourist flow at main scenic eases,” the document quotes KHARA President Showkat Chowdhry as saying.
Highlighting the importance of adventure tourism, the document also suggests the government to develop activity based tourism like para gliding, trekking, water sports, mountain biking and white water rafting and rock climbing.
“We also have a good potential for organizing craft fairs and exhibitions, apple and orchard festivals besides creating night activities like light and sound programmes, musical Melas and food-fairs etc. these activities will help us attract more tourists and increase their stays.”
Introduce Single Window Clearance System
KHARA has also its reiterated long pending demand of introducing single window clearance system for the renovation and up-gradation of the existing hotels and guest houses.
“As owing to the turmoil of the last 23 years, the structures have deteriorated and are not able to cater to the basic needs to the tourists. They need immediate uplifting and improving their facilities. For this government should fast track permission grants.
“Besides 30% subsidy should be given on total cost of renovation up-gradation of the hotels,” said Chowdhary.