Jeddah: Touting itself as “Paradise on Earth”, Kashmir now attracts many Indian tourists including NRIs from the Gulf region keen to visit it. Some Kashmiris living abroad and also playing their part of the role to promote tourism and investments in their state amidst the improving situation since the abrogation of Article 370.
In a recent webinar, a few prominent NRIs in the port city of Jeddah expressed that they have been impressed by the latest developments in Jammu and Kashmir.
The webinar, hosted by a prominent NRI, Pradeep Sharma, who hails from Jammu, discussed the changes in terms of development and economic prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of article 370.
Sharma said that for the first time after a gap of decades, people from Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries evince their interest in Kashmir and, are also keen on visiting the place.
He said that according to many hoteliers and houseboat owners, tourists have booked rooms in advance for the next couple of months, and the earnings have helped them to pay part of their debts.
“After a gap of years, hoteliers, taxi drivers and tour operators are doing brisk business,” he claimed. Sharma said that it is not easy now to find hotel rooms in good locations and there has been a heavy demand for houseboats.
The NRI businessman also noted that the Indian government has decided to hold the G20 summit in the Kashmir valley in 2023. The summit in Kashmir will bolster the confidence level of international investors and travellers, he opined. He also stressed that it has been possible only with an improved security conditions in Kashmir.
While addressing participants of the webinar, Sharma said that since the abrogation of Article 370, the Jammu and Kashmir administration, which is under the presidential rule of Lt Governor, and the central government has been projecting J&K as a destination for investors.
He said that the Kashmir Pavilion in Dubai Expo 2020 was a showcase of artwork of Kashmir, especially handicrafts that impressed people from the Middle East.
He said that a business delegation of 36 members from the UAE also visited Kashmir to explore business opportunities.
Sharma added that several UAE-based businesses signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Jammu & Kashmir, which includes, Lulu International, Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial, and Noon E-commerce. One letter of intent (LOI) was signed with Magna Waves Pvt. Ltd and Emaar Group.
Highlighting the social and political front, Sharma claimed that nomad tribes such Bakrwals, Gaddis and Gujjars are now availing of Indian constitution benefits from scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers Act, 2006.
“The successful election for 3-tier local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir also showed people’s trust in the system,” he stated.
Prominent Attendees who attended Webinar are Pradeep Sharma, Akbar Ponani, Mohd. Siraj, Liyakkath Kotta, S.P. Singh, A.Ahad Kirmani, Mir Gazanfar Ali Zaki, KTA Muneer, Ramnarayan Iyer, Ferozuddin, Dr. Zia, Syed Nasir Khursheed, Mohd. A. Hakeem, Sanjeev & Musafir Elamkulath.