Kashmir hosts major tourism conference to spotlight regional development

The Kashmir International Conference Centre (KICC), Srinagar was the venue for a significant gathering on April 13, themed “Tourism Beyond G20: Unveiling Jammu and Kashmir’s Tourism Treasures.” This daylong conference was a collaborative effort between the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), J&K Tourism Committee (JKTC), and various tourism and hospitality associations of Jammu and Kashmir.

Central to the discussions was the examination of the aftermath of the Indian Union government’s August 5, 2019, decision to abrogate Article 370, particularly focusing on its implications for the region’s tourism sector. Speakers highlighted how this political shift has paved the way for renewed national unity and conflict resolution, which in turn, has rejuvenated tourism – a sector pivotal to Kashmir’s economy and peace-building efforts.

The conference underscored a stark contrast between the previous 35 years of instability in Jammu and Kashmir and the burgeoning tourist influx in 2023 and 2024, marking a notable revival of the state’s tourism industry.

Subhash Goyal, Chairman of the ICC Tourism Committee and STIC Travel Group said, “With peace comes tourism, and the recent years have seen how the repeal of Article 370 is ushering in a new era of prosperity, with tourism leading the charge in Kashmir. We are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in what is truly the most beautiful place on earth.”

Throughout the event, there was a strong focus on ethical tourism practices and facilitating easier business operations within the industry. The conference also provided a platform for attendees to forge significant relationships and partnerships through interactions with ICC officials, business leaders, and other key stakeholders.

Farooq Shah, Chairman, J&K Tourism Committee (JKTC), emphasized the global appeal of Kashmir’s tourism sector, praising its unmatched potential and opportunities. “The value of its potential and opportunities as far as the Kashmir tourism and hospitality sector are unparalleled. Its pristine landscape, mountains, lakes, full of water, peaks and valleys, its flora and fauna attract researchers and the unique horticulture and technical products across the globe,” he said

Jyoti Mayal, President of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), stressed the importance of environmentally sustainable tourism practices to ensure the long-term prosperity of the region.

“The significance of environmentally friendly travel in Kashmir is to guarantee the prosperity of the region and state, the necessity of preserving the environment and creating more equitable tourist initiatives. How important it is to safeguard the environment and maintain these tourist destinations’ natural beauty, to guarantee the region’s continuous growth and prosperity, the creation of more equitable tourist initiatives, and the populace to hold on to these principles and concentrate on maintaining their unspoiled beauty,” said Mayal.

Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, a prominent figure in Kashmir’s hotel and hospitality sector, expressed concerns over the lack of government action to leverage industrial benefits for the region’s tourism industry. “The Government of India speaks of investments, but we see little initiative on the ground. I urge Mr. Goyal to take this matter up with the Indian Prime Minister to kickstart investment programs specifically for Kashmir,” Chaya stated.

Debmalya Banerjee, Regional Director of ICC, highlighted the organization’s global footprint and its commitment to promoting business in Jammu and Kashmir. “We host over 250 events internationally each year, and it’s a privilege to operate in Jammu and Kashmir as a professional body dedicated to commerce and industry,” Banerjee added.

“Tourism has always been our main priority. Indeed, there are warnings from various countries not to travel to certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir. But we can help by organizing several international conferences in Delhi, where we can also have an Ambassador’s Night, in order to address this problem. We will call you to Delhi to have one-on-one meetings with the ambassadors of other nations and to discuss the directives about advice,” said Co-Chairman of ICC Tourism Committee and Managing Director, Alpcord Network Events and Conference Management Company.

The conference concluded with commitments to host more such gatherings to continue addressing challenges and leveraging opportunities within the tourism sector, aiming to foster peace, prosperity, and stability in the region.


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