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There are signs of recovery in the country’s domestic tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the prime movers of this revival phase, Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh said on Monday.
Addressing a two-day conference on ‘Tapping the Tourism Potential of Kashmir- Another Day in Paradise’ organized by the Ministry of Tourism at SKICC here, Singh said the ministry has taken several initiatives for the revival and promotion of tourism in the country in recent times.
“We all know how the pandemic has affected the tourism sector… It has caused some kind of a crisis in all segments of the economy and most certainly for the tourism industry.
“However, we have seen the signs of recovery from this winter and the movement of people across the country has started. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the prime movers of this recovery phase,” he said.
The official noted that the Centre has been striving hard since the pandemic outbreak to help revive tourism because international travel has been banned following the lockdown.
Referring to the conference, Singh said the effort is to ensure that the revival which has happened in the winter season, continues in the summer season and be a sustained recovery process, especially for domestic tourists.
“Tourism is one of the largest contributors to the economy of J&K as most of the economic activities in the UT are based on tourism or the allied services,” he said.
The Tourism Secretary emphasized that J&K continues to be one of the focus areas of the Centre and the Tourism ministry under the Swadesh Darshan and PRASHAD schemes, and projects worth Rs 562.79 crore have been sanctioned for the development of tourism infrastructure in the UT.
“Most of these projects are in the completion stage and once completed, they will fulfill the vision of the ministry of providing an enhanced experience to visitors at all these destinations,” he said.
Singh said connectivity is another focus area and the ministry is working tirelessly with the Ministry of Road, Transport, and Highways and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to make improvements.
“Srinagar is now connected to all major cities of the country by air. Recently, direct flights have also started from Bengaluru and Ahmedabad to the Valley, and it has provided a much-awaited connection with different parts of the country, including south India. Night flights have also commenced at Srinagar airport, adding to the influx of tourists to the UT,” he said.
Later, talking to reporters, the senior official said the Jammu and Kashmir administration is thinking of exploring the unknown tourist sites in the UT, and “we will surely support them on developing those places”.
Ghulam Nabi Itoo, Director Tourism, Kashmir, said that about 67 films, songs, and small dramas have been shot in Kashmir since November last year.