SRINAGAR: A major fillip to tourist arrival in Kashmir continues to be adventure tourism and treks with adventure sports activities like mountain biking, paragliding, hot air balloon rides, river rafting, trekking and camping are picking up in Jammu and Kashmir.
The eco-friendly adventure tourism not only provides a new option for adventure lovers to test their adrenaline rush at various adventure destinations in J&K but also helps in the well-being of local population by providing them new employment options.
The idea of conceiving and strengthening new Development Authorities by the government was to have systematic development of tourist locations and exploration of new destinations. The Tourism Development Authorities focus on adventure tourism and keep adventure equipment available at the tourist locations for hiring by the tourists interested in taking up excited activities.
To provide a unique experience to tourists and increase their footfall, the J&K government has prepared a comprehensive plan for promoting tourism sector in the UT and identifying new abundant natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes at unexplored tourist spots.
The tourism department has developed various tourist circuits across J&K, laying special focus on adventure tourism, trekking activities, pilgrimage sites, water sports and other popular ventures.
The tourism department is emphasizing introduction of innovative measures for promotion of tourism sector by tapping its immense potential to the fullest.
Concerted efforts are being made to promote sustainable destinations and developing unexplored places of tourism potential while branding J&K in the international tourism circuit, an official said.
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, recently while launching J&K Tourist Village Network under Mission Youth, maintained that “We should never forget that every tourist destination has its own strengths and all we need to do is to focus on involving local communities, creating sustainable tourism and addressing the needs of tourists,”. The initiative is aimed at transforming 75 villages of the UT known for historical, picturesque beauty, and cultural significance into tourist villages.
LG said that the youth led sustainable tourism initiative will strengthen rural economy and community entrepreneurship, empowering youth and women by providing direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Apart from promoting Eco and Agri Tourism, Traditional Performing Art and Adventure Tourism for creating a rural tourism circuit, LG called upon all stakeholders, government departments, PRIs, and local communities to work as a single unit for seamless implementation of the ground.
LG suggested four broader areas for promotional activities including Farm Stays, Eco-Tourism, Wildlife Tourism, and Tribal Tourism. Simultaneously, there is also a need to train the youth in public-private, community partnership models, he added.
According to an official, these 75 offbeat locations will provide adventure seekers, trekkers and international visitors with an experience of nature’s wilderness while also creating a livelihood in villages in the forest environment through home-stays, nature guides, trek operators, food stalls, and forest souvenirs.
It is important to mention that reputed travel brand Thomas Cook (India) and its Group Company, SOTC Travel having identified strong pent-up demand for outdoor and adventure travel, have curated a distinctive portfolio, India Trekking Tours – timed perfectly with the onset of the country’s trekking season.
The company’s product range captures India’s diversity of breath-taking mountainous terrain, Sikkim’s dramatic landscapes, turquoise alpine lakes of Kashmir, arid desert topography of Ladakh, lush valleys of Himachal and Uttarakhand awash with vibrant flora-fauna, mountain springs and the source of her mighty rivers, quaint picturesque villages, temples, monasteries to the highest summit of all the Everest base camps.
The 26-year-old bollywood actress, Sara Ali Khan, took to Instagram to share a series of pictures of herself against the most natural backdrop of mountains, clear skies and greenery, as she went out trekking. The caption read, “Kashmir Ki Kali Is back to your Gali Now trekking par Main Chali (sic)”. The Atrangi Re Actor was also spotted cooking greens at a camping site in the cold of the mountains.
Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, recently showed the green flag to heartening adventure activities of the Tourism Department that started in Srinagar from the Zabarwan hills at Harwan.
Among these adventure activities are Paragliding from Astanmarg top to Chandpora ground. The flight included a vertical drop of 2000 feet which is a hit with adventure lovers and tourists.
Dr. Mehta said that J&K has a lot of prospective in adventurous activities and it needs to be fully utilized for overall benefit of all stakeholders, especially the weak sections of the society who are often unnoticed due to detachment.
Adventure tourism, it may be mentioned here, has been flagged by the department as an added attraction for the tourists and many new trekking routes thrown open for trekkers by the government last year were welcomed by adventure lovers.