J&K admin's initiatives keep tourism afloat amid pandemic

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Tourists flock to Asia's largest tulip garden at Siraj Bagh, Srinagar (Getty)

NEW DELHI: As tourism across the world faces a downturn on account of Covid, Jammu & Kashmir — where tourism supports a significant section of the population — has tried to make decisive policy interventions to keep it afloat, starting with identifying tourism industry as a priority sector for Covid vaccination. Thanks to the initiative, 80% of its tourism service providers have been vaccinated and are safe to welcome travellers from far and wide, eager to strike J&K off their bucket list.
Interestingly, tourism has been looking up in J&K with the Union territory having received one of its highest footfall of tourists between November 2020 and April 2021. As per figures shared by J&K government, tourist arrivals jumped threefold from 36,728 during November 2019-March 2020 to 1.11 lakh tourists between November 2020 and March 2021. This was largely on account of travellers who could no longer fly to international destinations like Switzerland for a ‘white winter’ experience, in view of the pandemic.
Gulmarg offered them an attractive alternative closer home. The relativelly improved security situation in J&K and safety of visiting a destination where all incoming passengers are tested for Covid upon arrival, an official pointed out, only seem to have ensured that hotels and resorts in Gulmarg had their rooms full during the ‘white’ season. Srinagar too benefitted as it is the connecting point to Gulmarg.
Next on the cards is release of the J&K Film Policy, 2021 by LG Manoj Sinha on Thursday, which shall offer a host of incentives to the film industry to shoot in its scenic locales. Government sources said films shot in J&K will help promote the place as an attractive tourist destination, apart from showcasing normalcy in the region. An official said security arrangements will be made free of cost to ensure that filmmakers can complete shooting.
As part of its efforts to create a vibrant film ecosystem in J&K, the UT government plans to set up a nationally competitive infrastructure; offer administrative assistance to ease filmmaking in J&K; lay down attractive schemes of financial support and exemptions; and offer local talent to assist in film-making.
Meanwhile, festivals and cultural events are back on the J&K tourism calendar- Shivratri was celebrated in Jammu in March 2021, as was spring at Badamwari garden in Srinagar on March 20, 2021. A musical event titled ‘Fulkari’ was organised on March 27 at Mansar and on March 28, 2021 in Jammu city.
‘Chenab’ Tulip festival was held at Jammu in March, 2021. Tulip festival and Wazwan festival was also held at Srinagar’s famous tulip
garden April 4, 2021.
An event titled “Tapping the Tourism potential of Kashmir- Another day in Paradise” was jointly organised by Ministry of Tourism GOI, Department of Tourism J&K and FICCI in Srinagar on April 12 and 13,2021.
Foundation of Tirupati Temple has also been laid in Jammu in June, 2021, which is bound to attract pilgrims headed for Vaishno Devi.

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