SRINAGAR, India – Jammu and Kashmir is following footsteps of Rajasthan to turn heritage properties into profitable business through tourism.
A high-level committee in the Tourism & Culture Departments will hold a series of consultations with the Rajasthan-based Indian Heritage Hotels Association (IHHA) to convert state’s built-in heritage into remunerative and productive assets.
“Our state is a goldmine of heritage assets and the government will take all steps to showcase them by maintaining the regal essence of its glorious past,” said chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
Sayeed, who is also the state tourism minister, on Sunday held a long deliberation with stakeholders in Srinagar and expressed desire to revive the state’s heritage assets and showcase them as centrepieces of the state culture to save these properties from decay.
The move comes in the background of slump faced by the tourism sector in the wake of inclement weather and street protests. Against 11 lakh tourists who visited Kashmir for the same period last year, only 4.5 lakh tourists were hosted by the Valley this year, a slide of more than 50 percent.
To pull up numbers, Mufti asked the tourism department to take a leaf out of Rajasthan’s initiatives, which has seen them convert grandeur of its palaces, castles and forts into prime objects of heritage sightseeing.
“The state needs to similarly project its shrines and pilgrim destinations on a much larger canvas. I was at Ajmer Sharief recently and I saw a number of devotees from my state there in large numbers paying obeisance at the holy shrine,” he said.
The state is closely working with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in mapping state’s heritage properties. The aim is to involve local stakeholders in reviving their old villas as heritage cottages, cafes, museums and cultural centres so that they become productive assets.
Describing various cultures of the state as its greatest binding force, the chief minister said J&K is safe because of its multiculturalism and rich hospitality. “We have won hearts of the people because of the love and affection we have showered upon them,” he said.
Referring to the rich influence of Central Asian countries on the state’s handicraft and cuisines, the chief minister complimented people for sustaining the rare arts for such a long time.