Kashmir Rafting Marathon: Naeem urges youth to be state’s ambassadors

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Srinagar— Calling upon the youth to become ambassadors of the state, Minister for Public Works Naeem Akthar said youth should highlight the positive stories of the state, an official statement said Thursday.

According to the statement, the minister was speaking at the prize distribution ceremony of the Kashmir Rafting Marathon which was jointly organized by the Department of Tourism Kashmir and Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir (ATOAK) here at Wussun in Ganderbal.

While expressing happiness over the successful conclusion rafting championship, the minister said youth are the icons and the ambassadors of the J&K state.

“Tourists were our ambassadors but as now the tourist arrivals are low, it is you who have to come up and become the ambassadors. You have to show to the world what we are capable of, and create and new impression about Kashmir as nobody from outside would come to rescue you from difficult situations,” said Naeem while addressing the participants of the Rafting Marathon.

He also urged youth to take this movement forward from here and continue with such activities in future.

The minister also urged upon the officers of the tourism department to take the role of leadership and involve youth from schools for adventure activities.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Tourism M H Malik said Ganderbal has a  huge potential for adventure tourism.

He said there will be separate calendar of activities for adventure activities from next year.

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“We will organize more such events in the future. Youth should come forward and we will not hesitate in funding such activities. We should not only hold Kashmir marathon but also national and international events in adventure sports,” said Malik.

He said Kashmir has huge potential in adventure sports and the department would try to promote adventure activities vigorously.

Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah said the department is vigorously promoting adventure sports in Kashmir.

“The adventure tourism also provides opportunity for entrepreneurs. We have been organizing training camps in rock climbing besides organizing such activities to involve youth who later earn their livelihood by conducting such activities.”

Director Tourism Kashmir said former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had promoted the white water rafting in 2008 and was keen to promote adventure sports.

He said the rafting championship is a part of its series of programs to promote adventure sports and also remove the negative perception about Kashmir.

“Recently, our boys achieved rare feat by trekking to Great Lakes covering over 60 kilometers in only 19 hours. One of the climbers climbed the high-altitude lakes on his mountain bike. New things are happening in the adventure tourism and youth should take part in such activities,” he said.

He said the Mohan Marg and the Lar Marg in Ganderbal are also being developed as tourist spots.

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Director Tourism Kashmir said the year 2017 saw low footfall of tourists and to attract travelers back to Kashmir, the department is organizing many festival in the coming months.

He said the department would also organize Gurez, Bangus, Saffron, Kargil festivals to attract travellers back to Kashmir.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal Dr. Piyush Singhla said tourism is the game changer for Kashmir. He said the district Ganderbal has a huge tourism potential especially in adventure sports.

He assured all possible help from the district administration for such activities.

President ATOAK Rauf Tramboo also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the importance of adventure tourism.

Earlier, Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal Dr. Piyush Singhla, Secretary Tourism M H Malik, Director Tourism Kashmir Mahmood A Shah flagged off the 5 kilometer race at 11 am at Wussun Rafting Point which culminated at Wayil Bridge. 

A total of eleven teams participated in the event, J&K Civil Defense finished first while as ATOAK bagged second and Living Kashmir Club finished fourth.

The other teams who participated in the event include J&K Ski and Mountaineering Association Srinagar, Tourism department Kashmir, J&K Mountaineering and Hiking Club, Kashmir University, Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Kashmir Rafting Operators Association, Central University of Kashmiir Ganderbal, Kashmir University South Campus, Glacier Mountaineering Club Anantnag.

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