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Omar Abdullah pins hope on adventure sports to boost J-K tourism

Srinagar, Tue, 13 Sep 2011 ANI

Srinagar, Sep.13 (ANI): The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, has stressed on the need to promote adventure sports as that would provide the much needed impetus to tourism in the state.


Abdullah was addressing tour operators from India and abroad at a convention held here.


"The challenge for us now is to reorient the positioning of Jammu and Kashmir, is to perhaps focus on niche areas of tourism. We are getting healthy numbers. I think 600,000, 700,000 is a very respectable number of tourists for this sort of infrastructure that we have. What we now need, to focus is on niche areas of tourism. I think adventure tourism becomes a very important part of that," said Abdullah.


In the backdrop of a series of violence that took place in the Kashmir Valley last year, the conference brings hope to many tour operators and tourists who see the state as a popular holiday destination.


Several foreign operators also believe that to draw more people from abroad, the tourists wanted assurance from the state authorities over security issues in the province.


"Obviously, there are some, perhaps some infrastructure upgrades needed and there is also of course some political dimensions to be considered. But with these things settled in a way, I think there is enormous potential over here. A lot of the more adventurous-minded foreigners are already coming back and there are clearly many more who would like to come when they can be assured that the situation is, what they were hoping to be for security and those sort of issues," said Brian, a tour operator from Canada.


However, a number of other local tour operators hold the view that the conference paved the way for improving tourism in the province.


"Such conferences are definitely very fruitful and are important for Kashmir. At least 250 to 300 travel agents come to Srinagar to see the picturesque beauty and to also visit Ladakh or even the whole state. This is an important conference and a good step for the state. People who have a wrong impression of the condition of the state would be able to see it first and one on one the improved situation of the Kashmir Valley. People involved in the tourism sector or market are able to see it through their own eyes that everything is back to normal. Kashmir is still a very beautiful place like it was before," said Nazir Bakshi, local adventure tour operator.


The tourism sector faced the brunt of a number of shutdowns that had taken place last year and violence had stalled the economic activities in the state.


The state earns most of its revenue from the tourism sector.


Kashmir has been at the core of the acrimonious relationship between India and Pakistan over the past six decades with the nuclear-armed neighbours having fought two of their three wars since 1947 over the disputed territory.


Nearly 50,000 people have been killed in Indian Kashmir since the commencement of insurgency in the late 1980s that India says is sponsored by Pakistan. (ANI)


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