1.97 cr tourists visit J&K till Nov this year: Secy Tourism 

Holds interactive session with Maha Tour Organisers Association, stakeholders in Katra

Katra: Secretary Tourism, Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, Tuesday conducted an interactive session with participants from the Maharashtra Tour Organisers Association in Katra, who were on their FAM tour.

The four-day Familiarisation Tour spanned Bhaderwah, Jai Valley, Guldanda, Patnitop and Katra with culmination in Katra. The tour was flagged off from the Directorate of Tourism Jammu on 1st December.

Director Tourism Jammu, Vivekanand Rai, Deputy Commissioner, Vishesh Mahajan, Joint Director Tourism Jammu, Sunaina Sharma Mehta, CEO KDA, Gopal Sharma and other officers of Tourism Department were present on the occasion.

Secretary informed about the amendments to Tourism Trade Act for improved ease of doing business including the process of extending renewal period to five years.

Referring to substantial boost to tourism influx exceeding 1.97 crore till November 2023, primarily from Katra, he emphasized the need to divert pilgrims towards exploring other tourist areas. He also stressed the importance of homestays and advocated for democratising the tourism sector, promoting adventure tourism and Prasad scheme for making Katra a Model Town.

Secretary commended the Directorate of Tourism Jammu for their efforts in identifying new adventure activities and stretches/areas, along with other commendable initiatives in the tourism sector..

Director Tourism highlighted the indispensable role of tourism stakeholders, calling for a symbiotic relationship and a holistic approach. He encouraged coordination with stakeholders from the film industry for tourism promotion and invited active participation in the New Year to boost tourism in the region.

Deputy Commissioner, while highlighting transformative changes in tourism sector of the region, urged upon MTOA to collaborate with the UT administration for further tourism promotion.

During her address, Joint Director Tourism shared specific recommendations for running water rafting stretches across various regions. These included thrilling routes such as Prem Nagar to Suspension Bridge in Doda, Shiv Mandir to Kundal in Kishtwar, Baradari Bridge to Dera Baba Banda Bahadur in Reasi, Balfiaz town to Poonch in Poonch, and Tawi from Rajouri to Hidayat Pura in Rajouri (depending upon water levels). These additions are poised to elevate the adventure tourism landscape, offering enthusiasts exciting opportunities to explore and experience the untamed beauty of these stretches.

Expressing gratitude, Vishwajeet Patil, President of Maharashtra Tour Organisers Association, extended heartfelt thanks to the Tourism Department for the enlightening FAM trip. He shared invaluable experiences, insights, and offered constructive suggestions, contributing to a mutually enriching exchange.

Others present were Rakesh Wazir, President of Hotel and Restaurant Association Katra;  Sham Lal Qesar, Senior Vice President of Hotel and Restaurant Association Katra;  Virender Qesar, Senior Vice President; Shiv Kumar Sharma, Senior Vice President; Kaushal Magotra, President of Patnitop Hotel Association; Arun Sharma, President of SMVD Press Club; Vishwajeet Patil, President of Maharashtra Tour Organisers Association; Udhay Kadam, Vice President; and Rajan Parekh, General Secretary besides Shabir Zargar, President Bhaderwah tour and travel association and Ali Jaffrey, Manager Skyview.

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