STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Appreciating the measures of the State Government for promotion of tourism sector by giving the charge of the Department to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a senior most officer of the State administration, Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said that major policy changes are required for revival of the sector. “In view of his positive and helpful style of working, the transfer has been widely welcomed by the travel and tourism sector. With the stakeholders having high expectations, the Government also needs to create an environment conducive for officers to deliver their best for revival of this important sector of the economy,” a statement issued by KCCI said. “The tourism sector of the State has suffered the major brunt of vagaries associated with the prevailing situation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir as also various policy changes like implementation of GST etc. Despite acknowledgement of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture about the manifold negative impact of GST on the Tourism Sector and recommending review of the same, no tangible decision has been taken in this regard. The State, while declaring the Tourism Sector as an industry, has been very close-fisted in providing incentives of industrial sector to tourism industry. The announcement, of charging power-tariff from tourism industry at par with industrial sector, was withdrawn within a year,” it said. “The State has not been able to take advantage of the huge potential of the tourism sector. The inbound figures of tourists in 2017-18 are dismal in comparison to other States including Tamil Nadu 33.83 cr; Uttar Pradesh 23.70 cr; Rajasthan 4.75 cr; Bihar received 3.35 cr and Kerala 1.58 cr while J&K had received only 73 lakh tourists,” it added. “Out of 73 lakh, only 13.1 lakh tourists actually visited Kashmir, that too including more than two lakh Yatris visiting Amarnath Shrine. Around 60 lakh visitors were the pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine and around 2-3 lakh visitors visited Ladakh. So, in fact around 10 lakh tourists visited Kashmir in year 2017. Approximately same number of tourists visited Kashmir even more than 30 years ago. While most of the States have been witnessing a steady double digit per centage growth in the number of inbound tourists, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing a downslide,” it stated. KCCI further urged that in view of large number of people associated with tourism sector, major policy changes are the need of the hour for revival of tourism sector. The Government should provide stability by assigning responsibilities for longer durations to efficient and competent officers besides providing budgetary support at par with other States, it said.
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