In 2022, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed an unprecedented number of visitors as 1.88 crore tourists flocked to the Union Territory to explore its famous tourist destinations, marking a historic milestone.

This year too started with a glimmering ray of hope. During the first two months of 2023, a record-breaking 2.5 lakh tourists visited Kashmir, surpassing the previous year’s figure of 1.6 lakh visitors, according to sources. Now that this massive surge in visitations is coming on the heels of the 3rd Tourism Working Group meeting scheduled in Srinagar, it is expected that Kashmir will gain much more significance on the global tourist map.

According to Arvind Singh, Secretary of Tourism, Govt of India, the TWG meeting in Srinagar, Kashmir, taking place from May 22 to 24, is expected to push Kashmir to become a major player on the global tourist map.

“It will be a major step forward for projecting the region as a destination capable of hosting high level meetings and conferences and highlighting its potential as a one of the top tourist destinations of India, both domestic and inbound,” Singh shared.

Kashmir has long been a popular tourist destination, but in recent years, it has been affected by political unrest, leading to a significant drop in the number of tourists visiting the region. However, recent figures and various initiatives to boost connectivity, show that the destination has already received record numbers of footfalls during the previous winter season over the past many years, which is a positive indication of the region’s potential, Singh stressed.

The Union Territory’s increased tourist arrivals have led to significant employment opportunities, highlighting its overall development through transformative initiatives and reforms. The Indian government is also prioritising better infrastructure and security, resulting in a surge in tourist activities and improved connectivity.

The TWG meeting, said Singh, will focus on discussing elaborate strategies to further boost tourism in the region, including measures to improve infrastructure, promote cultural tourism, and enhance safety and security measures. The meeting aims to showcase the valley’s potential as a tourism destination, despite challenges that need to be addressed, Singh stressed.

“There are likely to be discussions on a range of measures to promote the region as a tourism destination. This could include measures to improve infrastructure, such as building new hotels and airports, as well as efforts to promote cultural tourism and showcase the unique heritage of the region,” shared Singh.

Additionally, community participation and showcasing the culture and people of the Valley will also be the key components of the Tourism Working Group meeting. With these initiatives, the Tourism Working Group can help to promote the region as a vibrant and sustainable tourism destination, Singh expressed.

Sustainable tourism, shared Singh, would be another key topic of discussion during the Srinagar meeting. The Ministry of Tourism has made sustainable tourism a priority for development and is actively involving communities to ensure long-term sustainability, he added, when asked about the long term goals that the Ministry has set in terms of activating and enhancing the need of sustainability in the sector.

The Swadesh Darshan scheme has been revamped to adopt a destination and tourist-centered approach with a special focus on sustainable and responsible tourism practices. He also spoke about the Travel for LiFE mission which aims to promote sustainable travel practices.

The ministry is also working with G20 Tourism Working Group Members, Invitee Countries and International Organisations, including UNWTO, to develop a GOA Roadmap for Tourism as a vehicle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Singh recently announced that the TWG meeting in Srinagar will be crucial, as it will finalise the ministerial communique from the previous meeting in Goa.

“These discussions will be an opportunity for exchange of ideas, best practices, and experiences to build long-term partnerships for the holistic promotion of tourism,” he said.

Overall, the side events and discussions organised under India’s G20 Tourism Track can provide various benefits such as knowledge sharing, capacity building and networking opportunities, which can help in the sustainable development not just in Kashmir but also the entire country’s tourism sector, expressed Singh.

  • Published On Apr 25, 2023 at 03:01 PM IST

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