The Bold Voice of J&K

CM wants ‘Ghar Vapsi’of Bollywood to Valley

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CM-3-1AGENCY
New Delhi: With an aim of boosting tourism in the State, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday asked Bollywood (Indian film industry) to do ‘Ghar Vapsi’ (return) to the Valley as he talked about various measures, including holding of a corporates’ meet on the lines of Davos.
He told tour operators here that perception about the situation in Kashmir needs to be changed and asked them to visit the Valley to see the condition themselves rather than falling prey to an impression created by TV news channels.
“Perception matters and it needs to be changed,” he said.
Sayeed said a number of measures were proposed for encouraging tourism, which include flying of chartered planes by the State Government and throwing open his own official residence for ‘destination wedding’.
As part of the initiatives, he spoke about holding an ‘Indian Davos’ for national corporate at Gulmarg, 48 KMs from Srinagar city.
“I am not holding a business meet akin to that held in Davos (Switzerland) but I can always bring my Indian corporates there sometime next year and hope Prime Minister and Finance Minister will also attend,” Sayeed said.
Inviting film makers to shoot movies in the Valley again, the Chief Minister said “I want ‘Ghar Vapsi’ (return home) of all my Bollywood people to the Kashmir Valley.”
He recalled that when he was the Chief Minister earlier between 2002 and 2005 he had met late Yash Chopra. “It took six years for his perception to be changed and he shot his film there,” he added. “Similarly, when I was in Mumbai recently, I met many film stars including Shahrukh Khan and asked him to come.
Salman Khan is there. I am hopeful that this perception changes. It takes long to change people’s perception. What my government intends to do is to change it,” he said.
The Chief Minister supported the idea of his Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, who had said in his speech before him, that the State Government will be flying chartered planes with a fixed price of about Rs 5,000 so that prices of other airlines are under check.
The Chief Minister said his official residence ‘Hari Nivas’ will be used for organising destination wedding. “The State Government will outsource it and people can avail of this opportunity.”
The security force personnel should be facilitators and not make visitors afraid, the Chief Minister said.
He said the State Government will also promote adventure tourism which includes holding car rallies and trekking expeditions.
“We also want the culture of Kashmir to be reflected and we may soon have cultural evenings at places like Char-Chinar and Son Lankar (islands within the famous lake), Mughal gardens like Nishat and Shamilar,” he said.
Sayeed also said that his government will promote tourism in Jammu region independently and also open an International Yoga Centre to woo foreign tourists.
Drabu, while responding to queries of tour and trade community members, said the State Government was also exploring the possibility of conducting IPL matches in the State. “We are very seriously looking at the possibility,” the State Finance Minister said.
He said tourists’ foot fall is the indicator of normalcy in the State. “There is a need to bridge the gap between reality and perception. We are fighting different battles in the State, the battle of ideology and all. But the biggest battle which we are fighting is against perception. We need to change the negative mind set about Kashmir.
“We don’t have to sell Kashmir as tourist destination. It is a pre-sold destination. But change in perception is needed,” Drabu said. (PTI)

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