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Administration keen to make Sonamarg an all-weather tourist destination: Dir Tourism

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MASROOR AHMAD

SRINAGAR: Undoubtedly, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are the most popular tourist destinations and the most attractive places in the Kashmir Valley throughout the year. However, this year the authorities are also busy providing all possible facilities for the guests visiting Sonamarg. Relatively few tourists visit the place during the winter season due to severe cold and heavy snowfall.
The J&K Department of Tourism along with all concerned stakeholders, including the Sonamarg Development Authority, JKTDC, PDD and BECON are finalising the preparations for the upcoming winter tourism.
Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Shyambir and Director Tourism Kashmir, Raja Yaqoob recently visited Sonamarg where they co-chaired a joint meeting of officers and stake holders to review winter preparedness and allied facilities for keeping Sonamarg open during the winter.
During the visit , necessary preparations and arrangements including water, electricity, health, road, fire service, snow clearing operation, traffic management, operationalization of Z-Morh Tunnel, firewood and other related facilities were discussed to keep Sonamarg open during the winter.
The Director Tourism said that all the possibilities and opportunities are being explored and it will be a source of pleasant memories for the tourists, adding that all the arrangements are being finalised in view of the winter tourism in Sonamarag so that this place will be popular tourist destination in Kashmir valley.
The Director said that the administration is committed to promote Sonamarg as all-weather tourist destination with all requisite facilities and recreational activities. In this regard proper promotion will be done during the trade fairs organized in various parts of the country and other appropriate platforms including Social Media handles of the department, he said.
The pamphlets and other printing material regarding the promotion of Sonamarg as all-weather tourist destination may be pasted on airport road at prominent places and tourist vehicles, he added.
He said, that the role of various stakeholders associated with tourism at Sonamarg is imperative for better regulation of tourism trade and all facilities need to be available to the tourists especially heating arrangements in hotels, water and electricity, maintenance of roads during winters besides proper plan for its promotion at all levels as a twelve month tourist destination so that tourists can have the best experience here.
While reviewing the snow clearance operation, Beacon was directed to keep sufficient men and machinery stationed on identified location from Gagangeer to Youth Hostel Sonamarg so that snow is cleared timely from the main road besides joint control room should be established at CEO office SDA for better coordination.
Similarly, Executive Engineer, PDD Division Ganderbal was directed to ensure electricity is supplied to Sonamarg without any interference and proper curtailed schedule should be notified for Sonamarg.
The meeting also discussed the operationalization of Z-Morh tunnel for allowing traffic during winter. The DC directed the Executive Director, NHIDCL (projects) to ensure 24×7 operationalization of one tube for emergency traffic movement as and when required from 10th December.It was also decided that Chains shall be made mandatory for all types of vehicles after 15th December from Gagangeer onwards.
The Tourism department is planning various winter activities like festival and all stake holders have been directed to submit an activity plan by 2nd week of November so that proper planning is done for the winter festival at Sonamarg.
Meanwhile, Hotelier Association Sonamarg and other stakeholders raised several issues for keeping Sonamarg open during winters. He said last year a large number of tourists visited here in winter even though there was no place to stay in the hotels and this year there is even more hope and suitable arrangements are being put in place by the authorities. He said that all facilities and arrangements should be made to solve the problems faced during winter in Sonamarg and even all the departments should be given necessary instructions in this regard and it should be followed as per the instructions.

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