JK govt to develop Lolab Valley as b'ful tourist destination

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Srinagar, June 6: Home to many ancient springs and covered with dense forests, the oval-shaped Lolab Valley in north Kashmir's Kupwara district is all set to mesmerise tourists once again with authorities making all out efforts to showcase the natural beauty of the area worldwide.

"Lolab, which is also known as the land of love and beauty, is now all set to mesmerise visitors once again... The natural beauty of the area is expected to attract hordes of tourists and boost the local economy in coming days," Tourism Minister G A Mir said.

Mir, who undertook a day-long tour of Kupwara district yesterday and reviewed status of several projects being executed through Lolab-Bangus-Drangyari Tourism Development Authority and Tourism Department in the district, said Lolab Valley opened new vistas in Kashmir tourism and concerted efforts are being put in to showcase it globally.

Jammu & Kashmir

"We are hopeful that the Valley will become hub of tourism activities in near future," the minister said. A series of attractions would be created in virgin tourist destinations of Bangus and Drangyari in the frontier district to encourage tourists to visit these spots, he said.

Mir said a promotional festival at Lolab, Bangus and Drangyari would be organised this year to attract tourists and directed the concerned authorities to identify potential areas like Machil Pastures, adventure track routes and introduce them in the shape of packages outside the state.

"Spring and Herbal tourism of Lolab will be showcased as the valley is covered with majestic mountains with number of fresh springs and variety of herbs and flowers," he said. Lolab was a favourite trekking route for foreign tourists a few decades ago and it would be revived, he said.

"One of the famous trekking route leads to Asia's largest freshwater Lake Wullar in Bandipora district. We can market these routes to attract tourists," he added. With peace and normalcy gaining ground in the Valley, people, especially the jobless educated youth of Lolab, should opt for tourism avenues and for this purpose, state government would encourage them by providing soft loans with subsides.

"A good number of youth will be imparted various types of trainings in hospitality and protocol sector this year also to provide quality services to the tourists," he said.

A Foodcraft Institute would also be established in Kupwara and for the purpose a project of Rs 5 crore has been prioritised for Centre funding this fiscal. Apart from Chandigam, Khumriyal and Darapora, which are blessed with verdant forests and gushing streams, caves and old religious shrines, Kalaroose village in Lolab famous for its copper mines and carved rocks called 'Sat Burn' (seven doors) other tourist spots would also be brought on the tourism map, the minister said.

Mir said to upgrade the tourist related infrastructure in the area Rs 1.5 crore is being expended this fiscal under state plan, while over Rs 1.7 crore has been spent for the purpose during last fiscal.

Under Central financial assistance of Rs 5 crore, the work on several tourist facilities is apace in Lolab Valley, he said.

PTI

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