Taking a cue from Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir is set to promote eco-tourism which will give tourists myriad experiences of the countryside while helping locals living in remote areas.
Under the eco-tourism project, the state would promote adventure tourism, trekking, water rafting, bird watching, fishing, night camps, forest camps, wetland visits and wildlife education.
The objective of developing eco-tourism facility in Jammu and Kashmir is also to uplift people living in rural and remote areas.
"We have decided to launch eco-tourism in J&K on the lines of Karanataka to offer wildlife, forest and adventure tourism to domestic and foreign tourists in the state as a unique and natural experience," chief wildlife warden, J&K, A K Srivastava told PTI.
In this direction, a pilot project has been prepared by Karnataka government owned company Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd (JLRL), which is successfully running eco-tourism sector in the southern state for the past 29 years.
"The project has been submitted to the Union Ministry of Tourism and has been approved by it," he said, adding the action plan for tourism has been entrusted to JLRL in consultation with Wildlife department and Tourism department in J&K.
The virgin and untouched areas of the state makes it perfect for eco-tourists, JLRL said, adding the major ecotourism zones in the first phase have been considered as wetlands and protected areas.
JLRL also suggested providing technical assistance to the local community by capacity building initiative for providing an insightful, mindful and participatory travel experience to natural and cultural environments.
Under this project, J&K government shall setup a eco-tourism board – as an apex body to coordinate ecotourism activities in the state.
The board will develop infrastructure facilities and will outsource the management of the sites to interested parties under revenue sharing model with minimum guaranteed money, he said.
The nodal officer of the project has been appointed and it will explore eco-tourism potential, development, eco-infrastructure building up, eco-lodge management, marketing of eco-tourist sites and strong customer networks and development of organizational setup, Srivastava said.
"The potential ecotourism activities will attract different type of visitors and tourists in forest in J&K for travelling in dense woods, trekking, long excursions, jeep safaris, jungle tours, camping, wildlife education and viewing, bird watching and wetland visits," Ecotourism Project head, A Khanna said.
Viewing of river borders, springs, lakes, water wildlife species, rafting, canoeing, fishing and boating besides dances, cultural items and folk music will be part of the eco-tourism package.