Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department has started a cluster of homestay services at many places in a bid to expand tourism in the Union Territory.
The service has been started recently at Manasbal Lake also in the Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir and homestay services are being offered to tourists in nearby areas of the lake for the first time in the region.
Tourists were staying in hotels and houseboats in resorts of Kashmir valley to enjoy their holidays but now after this service, tourists, visiting Manasbal Lake, can avail of the homestay facilities also.
Jammu and Kashmir tourism secretary Sarmad Hafeez said that the purpose of the homestay initiative aims to promote eco-tourism in the area.
"The department has issued the homestay policies and guidelines and now it is easier to get registered now. The department will register more homestays," Hafeez said. "It helps the people at the grass root level to participate directly and we are promoting experienced tourism so that tourists can experience the beauty of local things and environment," he added.
This Homestay service around the lake is likely to boost local businesses. People of the area are welcoming the step of the tourism department as they are expecting employment through this service.
Musaib Ahmad, a local resident said, "This is a really good step by the government and youths of Kashmir will get a chance to earn through this service and problem of unemployment will be solved to an extent."
There are several unexplored destinations in Jammu and Kashmir that remain unreachable to tourists and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has identified 75 locations and is taking different initiatives for the development of these areas.
The UT administration has also taken several measures to attract tourists and get a mesmerising experience of visiting the Kashmir valley.
At Ganderbal's Manasbal lake, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department organised a festival to promote local art and culture, food and water sports activities.
Dr. G N Itoo, the director, of tourism in Kashmir, said, "Manasbal being an offbeat destination we have organised a day-long festival in which water sports and other activities were organized to attract more and more tourists".The UT's tourism department even promotes rural tourism with an aim to show Kashmir's village life to tourists. Recently, J&K Tourism tweeted, "Sagg eco-village in Ganderbal integrates rural life, heritage and culture creating a platform for sustainable economic models to benefit the local community. It facilitates interaction between the tourists and the locals for a more enriching tourism experience".
Over 79 lakh tourists visited J&K between October 2021 to March 2022, which indicates that the prevailing situation is favourable to the growth of the tourism sector in the Union Territory. (ANI)