With an aim to promote development in the northern most region in India, the recent Modi government abrogated both Articles 370 and 35A that provided Jammu and Kashmir with a special status. The abrogation of these articles enables the state to fall under Central governance. The Centre has initiated many plans for an all around the newly formed union territories of Ladakh and Jammu-Kashmir including the development of transport and connectivity in and around the region.
Republic Bharat got an exclusive interview with the Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Prahlad Singh Patel, who talked about the recent plans and initiatives that have been taken to promote and help prosper the tourism sector in India. He also shed light on the important sectors that need to be focused on when it comes to the overall image of Indian tourism in the world. Patel recently visited the Bhadarwah region of Jammu Kashmir, right in the foothills of Himalaya. He had been attending the cultural festival, that was organized by the local dwellers of the region. He also inaugurated a few establishments including the ‘science van’ - a mobile science exhibition that will be travelling across the state.
The tourism minister believes that it is necessary for people’s perception to be positive before visiting an area because one doesn’t want bad memories during a vacation. Patel tells Republic TV that the shunning of all negative rumors or perception becomes crucial for a sector like tourism to grow. The news of one incident can change the image of an area for a long time affecting the tourist footfall of the area.
Talking about sensitive areas like J&K, the Minister said,
“When it comes to Indian tourism, the models in most areas, including Leh-Ladakh or Jammu-Kashmir are similar but the regions demand different types of tourism. While Leh focuses more on the quality, Kashmir emphasizes on the need for both quality and quantity in terms of tourism. However, building a positive perception of an area also depends on the local population. “
Prahlad Singh also highlighted the points that the tourism and culture ministry are focusing on at the current stage to ensure a better brand image of India across the world.
When asked about the language barriers that a tourist faces when travelling to different parts of the country,
“The ministry has taken many initiatives like the inclusion of different language in the guidebooks or information centers. There is also free training available to the volunteers, who want to be guides.”
The ministry also will be putting more focus in building a brand for all the nooks and corners of the country including the North East, as the minister believes that there is a lot to explore in India, and there will be always be.
“When a person comes to our country, he is not here only to see the culture, but also the cultural diversity that India is known for.” - Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism and Culture