JAMMU, OCTOBER 10, 2020: Secretary, Tourism, Culture, Youth Services& Sports, Sarmad Hafeez chaired a maiden review meeting of the Directorate of Tourism, Jammu.

Earlier, Secretary Tourism & Culture visited Bagh-e-Bahu, and inspected the prestigious project “Musical Water Fountain with Light & Sound Show” being taken up under PMDP by the Directorate at an approved cost of Rs.10 crore.

Director Tourism, Raj Kumar Katoch, apprised him about the execution status of the project which in itself shall be a unique facility from tourism point of view for the J&K UT. While giving timeline for its completion, the Secretary directed for completion of the said project within seven weeks.

The Director Tourism, gave a detailed overview of the activities of the Directorate of Tourism, Jammu through a PowerPoint presentation. He said that the Directorate has submitted an activity-wise calendar for the coming seasons. He briefed that Department has disbursed COVID relief among tourism stakeholders like registered Poonawallas, Hawkers, Boating Agencies, Tourist Guides, Camel Rider etc. and cases of many more are in pipeline.

The Director Tourism explained the steps being initiated by the Directorate for its revival of the trade in view of the ongoing pandemic and the need to widen its horizon to the rural areas for focusing on the preservation of socio-cultural heritage and preservation of values and traditions.

In his introductory meeting with the officers of the Directorate, the Secretary Tourism impressed upon them to work with utmost zeal and dedication and dispose-of all the pending issues with their respective Wings in a time bound manner. He asked them to maintain transparency at all levels for better relationship and healthy work culture. He also stressed upon the need to focus on tapping tourist influx to the State towards unexplored destinations by way of Rural Tourism, Eco-Tourism and Adventure Tourism.

The Tourism Secretary took a sector wise review of Planning, Publicity, Registration, Establishment, Adventure, Estates, M&W Wing and stressed on capacity building of available manpower of the functionaries of the Department. He asked the Department to make all arrangements for the coming seasons as tourism is gradually being opened all across with all COVID protocols and precautions. He said the world has now realized to live with COVID and all activities are being planned accordingly. He said the need has been felt of practicing responsible tourism in view of COVID pandemic and efforts should be made in the direction. The Tourism Secretary asked the Department to prepare a calendar of activities for the coming seasons with specific themes and projections.

Meanwhile, the Secretary Tourism & Culture also interacted with the representatives of different organizations/Stakeholders and deliberated upon various issues being faced by the tourism sector in view of the prevailing COVID pandemic. The Stakeholders while reiterating their demand for sector wise compensation/relaxations however, strongly extended their commitment towards the cause of the tourism development in Jammu Division of J&K UT. While addressing the Travel Trade Fraternity Members, Secretary Tourism said that though, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the tourism sector equally as compared to other sectors, but all out efforts are being made to regain its momentum so that the vast untapped tourism potential of the J&K UT could be explored for socio-economic development while adopting the COVID-19 SOPs side by side.

He further added that as the tourism stakeholders have suffered hugely due to COVID pandemic and the Department appreciates their concerns in this regard and considered their genuine demands at an appropriate level. He stressed the need for better and close coordination between the Department and the stakeholders by which the sector would be taken out of this situation. He further added that Tourism is a lifeline to millions, especially in the developing world. Opening the world up to tourism again will save jobs, protect livelihoods and enable our sector to resume its vital role in driving sustainable development.

Satnam Singh, Director Finance, Tourism Department, Naresh Kumar, Additional Secretary, Tourism, Gurvinder Jit Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority, Neelam Khajuria, Joint Director Tourism, Jammu, Pankaj Kumar Anand, Dy. Director Tourism, Jammu, Anil Kumar Chandail, Dy. Director Tourism (Publicity), Jammu, Navdeep Wazir, Deputy Secretary, Tourism Department, Neha Mahajan, Dy. Director Tourism, Planning, Jammu, Mujib A. Tak, Dy. Director Tourism(M&W), Jammu, K.L.Bhagat, Executive Engineer, Surinsar-Mansar Development Authority, Dr. Umesh Shan, ADT, Batote, Ambika Bali, ADT, Katra & Rahul Mahajan, Accounts Officer, Directorate of Tourism, Jammu, Vijay Sharma, Asstt. Director Tourism (M&W), Jammu along with Members of the Travel Trade Associations, Siddhant Chowdhary, President, Bar & Restaurant Association of Jammu, Raman Suri, General Secretary, Tourism Federation, Jammu, Amrik Singh, President, Jammu Association of Tour Operators, President, Prayatan Vikas Mandal, Jatinder Koul, President, Travel Agents Association of Jammu, Raminder K. Sanhotra, President, Jammu-Katra Tourism Welfare Organization, Rakesh Wazir, President, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Katra, Sham Lal Kesar, Chairman, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Katra, Lovenesh Rao Sathe, Chairman, Hotel Association of Patnitop, Pawan Gupta, President, All Hotel, Lodges Association of Jammu, B.B.Kotwal, Chairman, Bhaderwah Tour & Travel Association, Anil Khajuria, Sr. Vice President, AJHLA, Anchal Singh Manhas, President, Tourist Taxi Operator Union, Railway Station, Jammu& Bansi Lal Sodhi, General Secretary, Special Tourist Taxi Association, TRC, Jammu were present during the course of Meeting.