The LG said there are hundreds of unexplored destinations in Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir will soon roll out a new policy to attract filmmakers and bring back the golden era of filmmaking in the union territory, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Monday.

Virtually addressing a two-day conference on ''tapping the tourism potential of Kashmir - another day in paradise'' – organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism at SKICC on the banks of the Dal Lake here, Sinha said various tourist spots of Kashmir were favorite destinations of the Mumbai-based film industry in the 1960s and 1970s.

“In the coming week or ten days, Jammu and Kashmir's UT administration will come up with a new film policy to bring back Kashmir's golden era on the silver screen,” Sinha said, adding, issues being discussed in the conference will act as a roadmap to achieve that.

The LG said there are hundreds of unexplored destinations in Jammu and Kashmir about which the people do not know, but his administration is taking steps to bring them on the tourist map.

“Work has been started to develop infrastructure, with public and private investment, at such places,” he said.

Sinha said despite COVID-19 pandemic, Kashmir witnessed the highest number of domestic tourist arrivals in the country since December last year.

“Tourism sector is the most affected by the pandemic. We have taken several steps for the revival of tourism without making any compromise on the health of tourists and the people of J&K,” he said.

He said the number of arrivals has helped in reviving the sector and decreasing the unemployment rate in the UT.

“Thousands of people associated with the industry have got employment opportunities. The unemployment rate in J&K in the month of September last year was 16.1 per cent, but it has dropped to nine per cent as per the latest data in the month of March this year,” he said.

“The unemployment rate at many tourist destinations like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Goa is much more than J&K. I believe that the tourism sector is the biggest contributor to this achievement,” he said.

The LG expressed hope that in coming days, tourist arrivals to the UT would increase further which would in turn generate more employment opportunities and help the economy to grow.

“J&K has an immense potential for increasing tourism and while some steps have been taken to tap that potential, I feel there is much more to do and we are on it,” he said.

Sinha also expressed his gratitude towards Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel for his full support in making efforts to restore tourism in the UT. He further elaborated that for the transformation of the tourism sector, five pillars will remain the focus, which include sustainable development for the tourism industry, strengthening the hospitality sector, Human resource development, development of golf and popularization of food.

Patel, in his video address, said the two-day event by the ministry is an effort to promote tourism in the UT.

“We have seen a lot of difference between January 2020 and January 2021. The number of tourists has increased five times. This event has been organized to further improve this environment,” he said.

Patel said Kashmir has witnessed an increase in the number of tourist arrivals after the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019.

“The way tourist arrivals started in Srinagar, there is a need to improve infrastructure at the unexplored places and the places with historical importance. So, for that it is important that we meet, discuss and give suggestions and I thank all those who are present in this event,” the Union minister said.

Secretary Ministry of Tourism Arvind Singh said that the ‘Paradise on Earth’ is abundantly blessed with tourism potential. Tourism is one of the largest contributors to the economy of the Kashmir region as most of the economic activities are based on tourism and allied services, he added.