Srinagar, Feb 2: In the wake of the Union Budget 2024-25 placing a significant emphasis on promoting the tourism sector and developing iconic tourist destinations, Kashmir's tourism stakeholders express optimism, asserting that these measures will steer the sector in the right direction.
Kashmir which played host to one of the G20 meetings has witnessed a record-breaking tourist number in 2024 and now the government of India's thrust on the sector has icing on the cake.
Mushtaq Chaya, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club extended a warm welcome to the emphasis placed on the tourism sector in the Union Budget. He highlighted the crucial role of tourism in generating employment and expressed the need for more focused attention on promoting Kashmir as a destination. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of allocating funds for infrastructure development in the Valley to further enhance its appeal to tourists.
"The government's dedicated focus on Kashmir's tourism sector has yielded dividends, with the recent hosting of a G20 meeting in the Valley sending a positive message to foreign tourists. Tourism stakeholders are optimistic that the government will continue to prioritise Kashmir's tourism, considering the untapped potential and the need to promote new destinations. The Union Budget's emphasis on the tourism sector is seen as a step in the right direction, aligning with the broader goal of promoting economic growth and employment opportunities," Chaya said.
Nasir Ahmad, who runs a travel company said: "The government's recognition and emphasis on the tourism sector is indeed encouraging. As a travel agent, we anticipate that this impetus will translate into increased support for the development of infrastructure, better connectivity, and enhanced facilities for tourists. This positive focus will not only attract more visitors but also contribute significantly to the economic growth of Kashmir. We look forward to more targeted initiatives that showcase the diverse and enchanting offerings of Kashmir, making it a preferred destination for travellers from across the globe."
FM Nirmala Sitharaman said during her speech that: "success of organising G20 meetings in sixty places presented a diversity of India to a global audience. Our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism. Our middle class also now aspires to travel and explore. Tourism, including spiritual tourism, has tremendous opportunities for local entrepreneurship."
"States will be encouraged to take up comprehensive development of iconic tourist centres, branding and marketing them at a global scale. A framework for rating the centres based on the quality of facilities and services will be established. Long-term interest-free loans will be provided to States for financing such development on a matching basis."
"To address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities will be taken up on our islands, including Lakshadweep. This will help in generating employment also."