60% hotels vacated by Security Forces: Talat

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‘1.4 million tourists visited valley this year’

SRINAGAR – While claiming that the state government was serious towards getting various hotels in valley vacated by the security forces, Director Tourism Kashmir, Talat Parvez today said the government has so far been successful in vacating about 60 percent hotels from their occupation.

He said despite lack of sufficient infrastructure for tourism in the valley, the department of tourism has been able to ensure a successful year for tourism in the valley.

The Director expressed optimism regarding inflow of tourists during winter and said many winter sports events are in offing for attracting more tourists.

While talking to KNS, Parvez said the state government is very serious about vacating hotels and guest houses occupied by security forces to boost tourism industry in the State.

 “Guest houses and hotels which were occupied by the security forces have already been vacated to a large extent and now further steps are being taken in this process ”, said Parveez.

Speaking about tourist flow this year, the Director informed that 14 lakh tourists visited Kashmir valley this year and this number is expected to increase in coming months for which tourism department is fully prepared.

Regarding the policy for enhancing tourism infrastructure in the valley, Talat said that a master plan has been prepared which will be implemented very soon.

He admitted due to the last two decades of violence, the department was unable to take appropriate steps for development of tourism infrastructure ‘but now when the peace has returned all the possible measures will be taken towards its betterment’. He further said that many hoteliers at Pahalgam and Gulmarg have been permitted to construct and improve upon their hotels. “Many famous hotel owners have already started building their branches at various places”, said the Director.

He appealed unemployed youth to come forward and earn from their talent for which tourism department will provide full cooperation. “Apne Hunar Se Kamaov (Earn From Your Own Skill) is a scheme under which youth can approach tourism dpartment to get employment and earn their livelihood. I appeal all youth to come and join us for their own benefits”, said Parveez.

When asked about promotion of eco-tourism director said a joint committee has already been constituted which is surveying all the pros and cons.

Admitting that the tourists were being cheated by some vested interests, Parvez informed that last year 21 lakh rupees were reimbursed to the tourists and a fine of 4 crore rupees was also collected from various vendors in the valley found involved in cheating and malpractice. “Strict action will be taken if anybody is be found guilty. Department is going to organize an awareness program to prevent such incidents with the help of common people”, said Parveez.

Speaking about the winter tourism and sports, he said that all arrangements have been put in place to make winter sports mega event. “Ice skating will begin in the last week of December in which large number of people including the outsiders are going to participate. In the first week of February Kashmir cup will be organized in which some European Ambassadors are expected to participate”,informed Parveez.

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