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Kashmir govt to provide 'subsidy to hoteliers and families who accommodate tourists'
After the United Kingdom lifted its two-decade-old travel advisory to Jammu and Kashmir, citing 'improvements in the security situation', the houseboat owners and tour operators expressed joy, as they believe the move will further boost the tourism sector in the valley.

THE YEARS of turmoil have affected the tourism in valley badly and lifting of travel advisory by the UK government will go a long way in cleaning the image of the state across the world.

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From past few years, as the peace has prevailed, Kashmir saw a record number of tourists, including foreigners as well despite the travel advisory being in place.

Minister of tourism Nawang Rigzin Jora, state tourism and culture minister is excited at the revocation of the travel advisory. “Lifting of advisory will not only boost valley tourism but tourists coming to valley will also prefer to go to Kargil, Ladakh,” Jora told this citizen journalist , adding, “It will have positive impact on overall tourism of the state.”

Jora said that the state is doing enough to boost its tourism potential right from adventurous, summer or winter tourism. “Kashmir is a hotspot for all types of tourism and adventurous sports be it car rallies, skiing, rafting or mountaineering and so on,” Jora added.

He said that the government is already working out to promote rural tourism to add more destinations for tourists. He said that for promotion of rural tourism government will provide infrastructure to the private parties in the valley, which will also play a major role in curbing unemployment in the state.

“Subsidies will be given to hotel owners, families who provide accommodation to tourists. With the development of rural destinations, the government has developed few destinations like Doodpathri, Bungus valley, Lolab, Shalkoot and Mansbal,” he informed.

In a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, the UK High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan said: "The improvements in the security situation has led us (the UK) to lift the advisory against UK citizens traveling to both the cities of Jammu and Srinagar and travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar highway".

Sir James added that he is "confident that this measure will encourage more UK tourists and businesses to visit which should in turn benefit the local economy".

The UK is the third country to lift the ban on travel to these places in the state after Germany and Japan. However, the official press officer in the UK High Commission here said the advisory against travelling to rest of the state was still in place. "We advise against all travel to rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir other than Ladakh; all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah," the advisory said.

Countries, including the US, Australia and New Zealand still have advisories against travelling to Jammu and Kashmir despite repeated requests by the state government to lift these restrictions. The travel advisories were imposed after the outbreak of militancy in the state after 1989 and abduction of foreign tourists.

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