Opinion | Rise of Tourism Industry in Kashmir  

With each passing day, tourism is becoming the most important industry in Kashmir. Last year, more than a million tourists visited the valley. It seems that tourism will be one of our biggest industries in the future. Many people from different parts of the country and the world travel to different destinations in the Kashmir Valley. Recently, the Government of India has put several border areas like Keran, Machil, Tangdhar, Gurez, Bangus Valley and other places on the tourism map. The introduction of new places on the tourism map has opened up endless opportunities for people to earn a living.

The Bangus Valley in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district has huge potential to provide multiple opportunities to the youth of Kashmir, both in winter and summer. It is important that winter sports activities in Kashmir do not stop but continue. The Gurez Valley can also be a place for such activities and the people of the entire Gurez Valley can be involved in various tourism activities if the government develops proper infrastructure for the development of the tourism sector there. Kashmir is blessed with immense natural beauty. We have mountains and pristine lakes, rivers and forests that attract tourists. Every part of the Kashmir Valley is full of opportunities and employment opportunities, but it needs a big push from the government.
According to the Economic Survey 2019-20 report, the service sector, especially tourism, has emerged as the largest contributor to the state’s gross development product. In J&K, the contribution of the service sector to the gross development product is more than 58 per cent, which is due to tourism.
People can profitably invest in the tourism industry as they have the opportunity to invest in the construction of hotels, restaurants and other related infrastructure at newly introduced tourist spots like Gurez, Bangus Valley, Machil, Keran, Teetwal, Tangdhar, Uri, Lolab, Doodhpathri, Tulail and other areas. There is a great potential for huge profits as millions of tourists are sure to visit these places if accommodation and other related requirements are provided to the tourists.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir should support investment in the tourism sector and convince multinational companies to invest in this sector. The people of Kashmir need a helping hand in the initial stages of any tourism business.The people of Kashmir are known for their hospitality. Kashmiri cuisine Wazwan and other Kashmiri dishes are something that a tourist cannot find anywhere else. The food industry can become an important aspect for investment in the tourism sector and provide employment opportunities to the youth. To promote tourism in the border areas of Kashmir, the government should provide adventure sports activities both in summer and winter. Just a few months earlier, in 2022, the Indian Army’s Eastern Command announced a series of adventure sports activities in the India-China border areas. The adventure activities were planned for 78 days. Cycling, trekking, rafting and other adventure games were conducted in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Following a similar pattern, the government was to conduct such activities on a large scale in the border areas of Kashmir.
The Winter Olympics is one of the major international multi-sport events held during the snow season. The Winter Olympics are held every four years. Athletes from India also participate in these events and win laurels. The Kashmir Valley has huge potential to host the Winter Olympics, but unfortunately we are still lagging behind in creating such infrastructure. The need of the hour is to prepare the infrastructure in the valley for the future Winter Olympics. The Kashmir valley has the qualities to host these sports like bobsleighing, curling, ice hockey, skiing etc.
Of the total population of Jammu and Kashmir, 69 per cent are youth. Considering this fact, it is very important to take care of the young population and make all efforts to reach out to the young population of Jammu and Kashmir. Their legitimate demands for jobs should be met without further delay. While it is not possible for the government to provide government jobs to every individual, it is quite possible for the government to guide and assist the youth to invest in the tourism sector. Thousands of unemployed youth can be employed in the tourism sector. Kashmir has huge potential for adventure sports tourism. The government should immediately introduce adventure sports activities in all newly introduced tourist destinations.

The writer, a social activist, can be reached on tahirmajeed123@gmail.com

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