Kashmir: AJK eyes more tourists this year: Tourism Minister

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

Sardar Faheem Akhtar Rabbani, Minister For Tourism on Friday said that this year we are accepting a lot of tousists as according to officially available data, a record three million tourists last summer season.

Talking to Daily Times, the minister said that the tourism sector has emerged as a significant source of employment in the region under the current government. According to the All Kashmir Tour Operators’ Association, nearly 500,000 people are directly or indirectly affiliated with this sector. Among various sectors of the local economy, tourism is one of the fastest growing, particularly in the Muzaffarabad and Poonch divisions.

He said our state is blessed with stunning natural beauty, which should be highlighted in tourism promotions. The region is home to several breathtaking tourist spots, including Neelum Valley, Jhelum Valley, Tooli Peer, Banjosa, Davi Galli, Mahmood Gali, Sudhan Galli, Ganga Chooti, Las Danna, Baral Fort, Yadgaray Mong, Jassa Peer, and Pir Chinasi. These destinations offer scenic views of waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and lush greenery grounds, Landscaping, making them a perfect choice for nature lovers.

The vernacular press has reported that over 200,000 tourists flocked to Rawalakot last summer. Tourist places such as Banjosa, Toli Pir, Lasdanna, Devi Gali, Jandali, Hussain Kot, Upper Singola, Bin Bekth, Datot, Topa Soon, Kherian, Trarakhal, and Nariyan have attracted tourists.

He said that riding on the success of the tourism boom last summer, the Tourism Department of Azad Jammu and Kashmir opened one more tourist destination, Arang Kel, located at an altitude of 8,379 feet, has become a popular spot for mountaineering, paragliding, and hiking. Tourists are turning up at Arang Kel in significant numbers.

According to Government data, Kashmir witnessed a record number of tourists for the last 4 years, bringing much-needed cheer to the faces of local traders who rely on tourism.

Sardar Faheem Akhtar Rabbani said, “Special arrangements, including a carnival, will accommodate the rush of tourists this summer season. We are planning to hold two-three roadshows as well as the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) in April to attract tourists from different parts of the country.

In addition, he said that it would be our government’s first priority to develop infrastructure, including hotels, transportation, and other amenities in the future, which are critical elements in promoting tourism in Azad Kashmir. By improving infrastructure, we can offer comfortable and convenient experiences to visitors, making them more likely to return as it has been exercised in various visiting places of Pakistan like Malan Jabba, Murre, Nethea Gali, Naran Kaghan, and many more. The government also plans to hold similar tourism-related activities in remote areas of Kashmir to attract more tourists.

Midhat Shahzad, Secretary Tourism, expressed ‘hope” for a massive tourist footfall this summer.

Tehzeeb Un Nissa, DG Tourism, said that district administration has been dictated to facilitate the tourist appropriately. She added Government is planning to carry out promotional activities in all districts of Kashmir. She said further that in our recent meeting with various hoteliers of Kashmir, it has been dealt with the mutual understanding that they would offer discount offers for the tourists to cooperate and extend their support to the government to promote tourism in Kashmir.__Daily Times