I f the aim is to boost tourism in order to create job opportunities for the youth especially women, it should get transformed into concrete plans with a mission to accomplish the desired objective. Agreed, Jammu and Kashmir is blessed by nature with many picturesque places laced with historical and cultural importance but most of them not fully explored as attractive tourist points and if new ideas and innovative initiatives are taken to give them any type of shape like transforming them into ”tourist villages”, it can be inferred that they are poised for getting not a temporary facelift but much more than that in the shape of infrastructural development to make them distinct in attracting tourists. Launching of J&K Tourist Village Network under ”Mission Youth” is bound to reverse the proverbial ”one in hand better than two in the bush” as it seems both are planned to be ”in the hand”, viz developing identified spots as tourist villages as well as engaging young entrepreneurship for gainful employment . If the footfall of tourists in the UT, as per official figures, during July itself touched 11 lakh even under the persistent scared air of COVID pandemic, that of August still expected to have gone up, nothing unusually difficult to have more of it by moulding new concepts and tailoring new schemes hence launching of the said Network. A rural tourism circuit – an offshoot of the Network envisaged to be ensured, however, requires dedicated efforts, scientific planning, financial support and professional expertise. That, however, requires much to do. In other words, it is to be found out what this crafted village had special to offer and that speciality or uniqueness has got further to be polished, remoulded, reshaped and showcased effectively which requires both investment and expertise. Obviously, each such village identified cannot have the same advantages or similarities in presentation but a heterogeneity which has to be tapped, explored, exploited and presented as what we call a tourism product. How best that particular tourism product can be made presentable to be ”sold” depends upon how the entire initiative is conceptualised into a workable entity. If shooting films, TV serials and related sequences too are encouraged under the concept of transformation, that would be requiring particular type of support facilities which again being related to economic activities was going to involve the young entrepreneurship. In this era of digital revolution, the proposal to provide a digital platform to all these tourist villages will make them get connected fast to destinations, places, offices and business enterprises that have a connect of tourism related activities . The Lieutenant Governor terming the initiative as youth led sustainable tourism initiative, on the face of it, looks plausible and meeting the requirements to a great extent of creating job opportunities. That is precisely due to the thrust under the initiative on the local rural economy which definitely shall get strengthened. That would mean, instead of sporadic individual entrepreneurship, a community entrepreneurship getting engaged in self employment ventures which have intrinsic characteristics of providing direct and indirect opportunities for employment. We have been stressing upon the need to formulate such policies and schemes which are broad based to the extent of finding how each one could contribute in providing employment opportunities. Perhaps, with that in mind, the proposal to transform as many as 75 scenic and attractive areas into tourist villages in Jammu and Kashmir has been mooted. We keep on reiterating that each scheme and programme with promise of bettering the lot of people particularly targeted sections like the young entrepreneurs under reference, proper and effective awareness, however, should become an integral part of such schemes. More the awareness and how a particular scheme was presented, more the involvement of the targeted sections. Only then can the requisite potential in the targeted younger population be harnessed to make them self reliant which while launching the Tourist Village Network under ”Mission Youth” the Lt. Governor made a special mention of. Brand Ambassadors are required for making every such innovative scheme travel to required destinations and beyond and if the “youth will be our brand ambassador for green tourism”, it only denotes the levels of recognising the hidden potential requiring to be tapped and utilised. A word of caution in that schemers can be made and presented in an attractive way, implementing process is critical which must not be lost sight of but accorded all importance and priority with regular monitoring.
Concept of tourist villages
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