The G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting held in Srinagar has proven to be a game-changer for the tourism sector in the region, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said at a press conference on Monday. He said that the foreign tourist arrivals have shown a notable increase since the G20 meeting, with the numbers expected to rise even further in the coming months.
The successful G-20 meeting, conducted between May 22 and May 25 this year was attended by participants from various countries and they returned home with a favorable view of the region, the LG said. He also revealed that over the first six months of this year, J&K has witnessed 15,000 foreign visitors, marking a significant increase after a prolonged period of limited growth. A large number of these tourists, according to him, are coming from South East Asian countries, signifying the increasing global appeal of the region.
Srinagar city itself has emerged as a hub for high-profile events in the country, as pointed out by the LG Sinha. The city has hosted several important events such as the one by Indian System of Medicines, Engineer’s Association, Chartered Accountant Association, and even 18 Supreme Court judges participated in a meeting. This increased participation in conferences and gatherings highlights the growing recognition of Srinagar as an ideal venue for national and international events, further boosting the region’s reputation, the LG said.
Last year, J&K witnessed a record over one crore tourists, contributing 7 percent to its GDP. To sustain this growth, the government has identified 300 new destinations for promotion, emphasizing green tourism, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and the active participation of local communities. Such initiatives will not only enhance tourism but also contribute to the region’s overall development. The rise in the number of movies filmed in J&K further signifies the region’s increasing popularity and the positive impact it has on the local economy and people’s lives.
Recently, the LG Sinha also set an ambitious goal of hosting two crore tourists in the UT in 2023. But the administration needs to focus on building and upgrading the infrastructure before bringing more tourists to the region. This includes improving transportation infrastructure, providing quality accommodation, ensuring basic amenities, and addressing security concerns. Only then can the UT truly capitalize on its potential as a tourism destination. Over the last three years, Kashmir Valley has been largely peaceful, paving the way for the spurt in tourism. But tourism shouldn’t be the only indicator of peace and the government knows it very well. So, we need more steps to ensure the gains of the past three years are consolidated and enjoyed by all people. For example, it is about time that the central government takes steps to hold Assembly polls in the union territory.
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