Omar opens subcontinent's highest golf course
By Kavita Suri, Jammu, Sept 19 : Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday inaugurated a newly relayed Gulmarg Golf Course, one of the oldest and highest courses in the sub-continent at an altitude of 8700 feet above sea level.With the inauguration of 18-hole full-fledged golf course at the world famous tourist resort Gulmarg, said Abdullah, the golf circuit in the State has been established.
"The golf lovers visiting the State can play golf at Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Jammu," he said adding that a golf course in Ladakh at the banks of river Sind is also in offing.
The chief minister, who is trying his best to promote tourism in the state, feels that by organizing golf events and showcasing this beautiful circuit world over, they would be able generate a regular flow of sportsmen in this discipline to the State and help promote tourism.
"Golf lovers can experience playing of golf in different conditions and in different climate during the stay in the State", he said adding that his Government has flagged development and balanced growth of tourism as one of the important concerns in the policy planning.
"For its great potential to generate employment for the people, especially youth, measures have been initiated to effect holistic development of this sector," he added.
The Chief Minister also underlined adventure tourism as an effective avenue of generating economic activities and providing wide-ranging job opportunities for youth.
"Educated youth have all the more openings in this field," he said underscoring the need for trained and skilled human resources to give impetus to the sports and adventure tourism in the State possessing rich potential in this area.
Emphasizing the importance of conservation of environment and ecology of the State, the Chief Minister said that much damage has been caused to this aspect due to the haphazard constructions.
He asked the concerned agencies to ensure that no illegal construction takes place anywhere in the tourist resorts. He said infrastructural development in agreement with the ecological and environment is need of hour and strict vigil is required in this direction.
Omar Abdullah said with the promotion of conventional tourism, the adventure, pilgrim and sport tourism potential of the State should receive focused attention. He said that Government is keen to restore the tourism glory of the State and showcase its high potential in adventure tourism.
He also inaugurated the 'Kongdoori-Marry Shoulder' chairlift project completed at a cost of about Rs. 17 crore. The chairlift would enable to develop Kongdoori as an international ski destination and pave the way for hosting international skiing events.
The project is expected to rope in skiers from the country and abroad to enjoy skiing on the world class slopes and on best quality snow available at Gulmarg. He said the project would also give considerable boost to the winter tourism in the State and help generate additional economic activities for the people.
Latest technology has been adopted in the construction of chairlift to ensure efficiency and safety of the project. The chairlift has a length of 1.6 kilometres and vertical rise of 498 metres.
It would provide 90 chairs with passenger capacity of 1000 skiers per hour. As many as 16 towers have been raised in this project which is likely to rope in skiers from all over the country and abroad to enjoy skiing at Gulmarg during coming winter season.
Director Tourism, Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Shah said that the Gulmarg Golf Course has been upgraded and redesigned on professional lines to make it at par with international standard.
He said that the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department is promoting golf as a niche tourism project in a big way