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Tourist arrivals not to be linked with K-resolution: Omar
SRINAGAR, Nov 20: Chief minister Omar Abdullah today said large number of tourists arriving Kashmir valley should not be linked with resolution of Kashmir issue and their arrival is only benefiting economy of the state.

He was addressing a seminar organised by Kashmir Hoteliers and Restaurant Associations. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and union minister of state for tourism, Chiranjeevi, also addressed the seminar.

This was for the first time that Omar and Azad shared a platform after senior National Conference Dr Mustafa Kamal related fresh controversy. Azad had asked Omar and his father Dr Farooq Abdullah to take action against Kamal for his statement, “India is enemy of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Interestingly for obvious reasons, chief minister and union health minister did not speak about the controversy during seminar. They did not speak to media after the seminar.

In his speech, chief minister said that the tourist arrival should not be linked with tourist arrival or normalcy. He made the statement when the panches and sarpanches are under threat from militants, who have been saying that government of India is using the panchayat elections to counter ongoing movement in Kashmir at international level.

“The large number of tourist arrival should not be linked with resolution of Kashmir issue. Tourist flow is merely an economic activity and should be seen in that perspective only. The two have different genesis and cannot be equated at all,” he said.

Chief minister said that revival of tourism can surely be associated with economic prosperity and generation of substantial employment even for people without specialised skills.

He expressed satisfaction over the 79 percent increase witnessed in the arrival of tourists in Kashmir Valley during the current year so far.

Omar said that arrival of about 13 lakh visitors to the Valley this year so far indicates the substantial upward trend in tourists’ interest to visit the Valley during all seasons.

“In fact, visitors witness diverse and varied aspects of natural beauty in Valley during all seasons,” he said and asked the players associated with tourism to create good facilities for the tourists visiting the state. “Up to the mark service delivery by all stakeholders in the sector holds key to rope in conventional and high-end tourists in the state,” Omar said and stressed on upgrading the status of services and facilities for the visitors visiting in the state round the year.

Omar said that while creation of world class tourist infrastructure is significantly important for growth and development of tourism, the preservation and protection of natural beauty of health resorts is all the more important to pass on protected environment to the next generation.

Chief Minister maintained and said that preservation of this natural beauty is imperative for sustenance of tourism in the State. He said Jammu and Kashmir does not possess infrastructure like Taj Mehal, Lal Qilla, etc. “We are known for our natural beauty and conservation of this factor is the key to our sustenance on tourism,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Azad said greatest component of sustainable tourism is peace. He said, a suitable development can only be achieved in the state, when the prevailing peace continues in the state.

Referring to the potential of pilgrim tourism, he said this form of tourism has great promises for the economic prosperity of people across the State.

Azad underlined the need for harnessing heritage and pilgrim tourism and called for preserving the natural beauty of health resorts to sustain tourism in the state.

The union minister also emphasized on judicious use of land for tourist activities and creation of infrastructure in consonance with ecological and environment requirements.

Azad said the sustainable tourism means use of tourist potential to meet the present needs taking care of those in future. He said tourism has to be developed in such a way as would sustain both present and future generations. The minister also highlighted the need of harnessing the vast employment potential embedded in tourism sector and suggested that diversification in tourist activities.

Union minister of state for tourism, Chiranjeevi, on the occasion said central government has approved 21, out of 41 eco friendly tourism projects. He said that central government will provide all financial support for these projects for the better tourist infrastructure in the state.

News Updated at : Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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