07 May 2006 ~ 0 Comments

Skiing innovation


Skiing innovation Having a hands-on Chief minister like Ghulam Nabi Azad, allows babus with imagination to do things they would normally never dream of doing. Azad recently surprised babus with a dramatic new set of tourism initiatives that surprise, surprise are going to tap Jammu’s potential. Babus who were there till last week have been kept on their toes. A massive gold rush is likely to erupt soon when Indian Corporates and global players wake up to what the babus are working on, around the Tavi River. With Azad having the courage and experience required to dream big, this could easily result in projects that break ground very quickly. Babus at India’s most revered Shrine Vaishno Devi, will have their role to play in the new, Jammu based initiative. Getting even one percent of pilgrims to spend an extra night in J&K’s Winter Capital would unleash a whole new economic muscle. This is one that Tourism Ministry babus in New Delhi, would have to find funds to support under their Domestic Tourism mandate and the schemes devised for Pilgrim tourism promotion. Given that Azad has also been minister for tourism at the Center, his officials in the J&K government will find it easier to work their way around the maze in Delhi. If Jammu can capture the 2% of pilgrim who will visit the shrine this year it will mean an additional one million and more room nights for the temple town each year. Clearly the babus of J&K tourism are about to dream big. And for those hesitating to dream big, inspirations is at hand. Contributing to creating global class locations at Jammu, is Ajatshatru the younger son of erstwhile Kashmir ruler Karan Singh whose new Palace cum Hotel the 40 roomed Hari Niwas Palace is the talk of tourism aficionados. The young couple has done a careful conversion that creates a jewel like property with its own Vaishno Devi View Wing. Crafted on a wing, a prayer and very authentic foundations, babus in J&K tourism believe now that classy properties could put Jammu on the global tourism map and supplement Kashmir’s attraction. But its not just local traffic they have their eyes on; they want global traffic too. Somebody must have told them that, it’s probably the best way to curb militancy too, in the short run. Tourism babus in strife-torn Kashmir too are therefore currently mulling over a fabulously innovative revenue generation plan. In what could be a one of its kind project, the J&K babus are considering leasing out India’s favorite skiing resort Gulmarg for 99 years. Of course that’s at a king’s ransom of over Rs.20, 000 cr. The babu move appears to have been triggered by the profusion of offers from international companies to takeover the 6 sq km resort that also houses the highest golf course in the world. The enthusiastic babus will be hiring a consultant over the next two months to close this prime deal. And Azad is the one boss who may actually be able to help them achieve this The babus believe that the ever-receding English and American snowlines will make Gulmarg the most sought after destination for world skiers in the coming days. In fact they claim that the added advantage with Gulmarg is that it is the only natural ski resort that receives snowfall through December to April. Knowing fully well that babus have a reputation of playing spoilsport with the most profitable of ideas when they slip onto the driver’s seat, the top J&K Tourism babu Salim Baig promises to keep the government out of the development and running of the resort. He however adds that the babus will continue to keep a watch on forest, environment and safety regulations. But given the babus’ penchant for finding the most flimsiest of grounds to stall projects, only time will tell how quickly the babus are able to deliver on the most innovative idea doing the rounds in the tourism corridors today.

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