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Webinar on ‘Tourism and Rural Development’ held

JAMMU: Discover Jammu, an initiative by tourism enthusiasts of Jammu region on Wednesday organized a webinar on ‘Tourism and Rural Development'.

Speaking on the occasion, Ajay Khajuria, who served as Director Tourism Jammu and was the Founding Member-Secretary (ex-officio)/Executive Director of Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society, said, "Jammu region has a huge variety of rural landscapes and situations away from the hustle bustle of city life which have the potential of attracting tourists not only from India but even abroad. We have three climatic zones and each one of them has different potentials, one of them adventure tourism."

Arvind Kotwal, Former CEO Surinsar Mansar Development Authority and former Dy Director Tourism Jammu, said, "Rural tourism is when people go to villages and experience the life there. People from urban areas are more than willing to visit countryside and live a rustic lifestyle."

Rajinder Khajuria, presently Chief Executive Officer, Bhaderwah Development Authority talked of mudhouses as being planned in Bhaderwah for experiencing rural civilization and lifestyle.

Dr Lalit Gupta, Art Historian, asserted, "The package to be offered to the tourists can't be uniform. It varies from place to place. A study of over 3000 villages of Jammu region can be conducted for exploring their attractive aspects. Some might have heritage value, while some might have folk culture and so on, which when integrated can give a wholesome experience to visitor.

Initiatives by community can help break the ice." Anil Gupta, Faculty, Department of Tourism and Travel Management, Central University of Jammu noted, "The diverse Jammu division has its own authentic rural flavour in terms of rural landscape, life, activities and heritage. Professionally qualified entrepreneurs should be encouraged and facilitated by the government to promote rural tourism."

According to Mani Mahesh, Author, Coach and Co-Founder of Green People (The Goat Villages & Bakri Chhap), "We need to re-package and re-brand Jammu on the maps of tourism by creating new destinations that are focused on culture, farm, agro, and rural aspects of tourism."

Group Captain Kamal Singh Oberh (Retd), Recipient of Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award for excellence in aero adventure sports, pointed out the pathetic road condition for the tourist destinations or potential tourist destinations in rural areas.

Vaibhav, Co-founder of Travelers Dost and The Himalayas 360, said, "Home stays should be permitted, promoted and utilized. Rural community needs training for catering tourists."



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