J&K has the potential to become pilgrimage tourism State -Veeri

‘Efforts on to make Apple Valley-Bijbehara paradise for tourists’
ANANTNAG: Describing tourism as a rudder for the progress of state’s economy, Minister for Horticulture, Haj and Auqaf, Abdul Rehman Veeri today said that government is making concerted efforts to develop Apple Valley Bijbehara as a tourist hub that will enthral thousands of tourists visiting Pahalgam via Bijbehara.
The Minister said that the state of Jammu and Kashmir which is bestowed with captivating sceneries and tourism industry has a huge potential to tap these untouched vistas using innovative techniques to bring them on the tourism map of the country. He said not only mountains and fountains should be developed as scenic spots but shrines and temples of the state also have a high potential to be developed as pilgrimage tourist spots and government has already launched initiatives at various religious spots across the state.
The minister was on a day-long visit to various tourist spots along the Bijbehara–Pahalgam road that are developed by the J&K Tourism department including pilgrimage tourist spot of Hazratbal Khiram Dargah, Apple Tourist Resort at Chinni Wuder, Padshahi Bagh Park and Tourist Shopping Gallery at Bibehara.
 While reviewing the progress of ongoing construction works in the pilgrimage tourist site of Hazratbal Khiram Dragah, including construction of Seerat Hall, park landscaping, development of spring, lawn and channelizing of Nallah, the Minister stressed on the completion of project in the fixed timeframe and directed the concerned authorities to press in available men and machinery so that works are up to the standard and are ready for the incoming rush of religious tourists during the next tourist season.
The Minister was informed by the executing agency of Tourism Department that the project cost for the development of Dargah as a pilgrimage tourist attraction was 3.79 Crore
While reviewing the progress of construction work at Apple Tourist Resort at Chinni Wuder on Bijbehara-Pahalgam road, the Minister said that Bijbehara and its highlands have a huge potential to be developed as tourist attraction spots and ventures like Apple Tourist Resort-owing to its prime location-will not only attract people from parts of the state but tourists from other parts of country as well.
The Minister also said that Apple Tourist Resort is the first tourist resort of its kind in the state that is constructed on modern lines and at the same time consolidating historic architecture of the Valley. He was informed that the resort which will be completed by the end of May 2015 will have food-street, kiosks, a green park, and shops selling traditional handicraft items.
Regarding the progress and funding of the tourist attraction projects, the Minister was informed that the project cost of Apple Tourist Resort, Chinni Wuder, Pushkreeri was Rs. 3.5 Crore, whileas the Tourist Shopping Gallery, opposite Padshahi Bagh will be constructed at a cost of Rs. 4.5 Crore.
The Minister was accompanied by D C Anantnag, Muneer-ul-Isalm, Director Tourism, Kashmir Mehmood Ahad Shah and officers from various departments of the district, besides prominent people of the area.

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