Urging travellers from across the country to see Jammu and Kashmir in “a new light”, the state government has been directing a significant part of its tourism revival efforts in Maharashtra. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on her recent visit to Mumbai, said, “My father had started this initiative to promote Jammu and Kashmir and I am carrying it forward. Unfortunately certain incidents are over emphasised. The situation is completely fine for tourism. We need the Bollywood industry and people from all parts of the country to support us. We have been stressing on infrastructure. We also have to develop all areas of the state. It is important that local people must also have stake in the tourism economy of the state, which will further benefit them.”
Maharashtra currently stands as the second biggest domestic source market for J&K, following Gujarat. West Bengal ranks third.
Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Farooq A Shah, secretary (tourism), Government of J&K, said, “J&K offers every kind of tourism product – from high-end to budget. We receive a lot of people from Maharashtra, which is a huge market and we are hopeful that we will get a good number of tourists from here.”
The J&K Government earlier this year revealed that `2,400 crore will be spent on tourism infrastructure and tourist facilities in the next four years.
“Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh have their own USPs. Our focus is also on eco tourism and sustainable tourism. Our entire team is working on placing Jammu and Kashmir as the top tourism destination on earth; and we have the potential,” he added.
One of the latest efforts to draw larger tourist footfall, the J&K government has organised a 15-day festival from April 1, to showcase Asia’s largest tulip garden, The Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, which features more than 20 lakh tulips of 46 varieties.
Speaking about MICE tourism in the state, Mahmood A Shah, director of tourism, Kashmir, added, “We have investments in the MICE sector. Our facility in Pahalgam has been commissioned which has a capacity to host 200 guests. Similarly, there’s a MICE facility in Gulmarg and other places like Jammu, which works to our advantage. We are aggressively promoting J&K as a MICE destination, not only in metros, but also in Tier II cities such as Raipur and Kanpur which are essentially industrial hubs. We are getting a good response, but the potential of the country is so huge that it needs to be tapped and some kind of aggressive marketing needs to be done.”