MIRPUR (AJK)-A master plan has been kicked off for the uplift of the tourism industry in Azad Jammu Kashmir, said the AJK government.

This was disclosed during a joint news conference addressed by AJK Minister for Sports, Youth and Culture Ch Saeed, Secretary Information and Tourism Midhat Shehzad, Commissioner Mirpur M Tayyeb, Director General Information Raja Azher Iqbal and Director General Tourism Javed Ayub at the Kashmir Press Club.

They said that brisk preparations had been started to host a grand three-day Summer Tourism Festival in Mirpur city from April 27 aimed at to promote tourism coupled and Kashmiri cultural heritage enriched with huge natural potential for the promotion of tourism.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan will inaugurate the grand gala at the formal inaugural ceremony to be held at Asifa Bhutto Park in the city on April 27. It will be held under the auspices of AJK Tourism Department with the coordination of the district administration and the related nation-building institutions.

Officials of various nation-building institutions including the AJK Tourism Department Tariq Malik, District Information Officer Javed Malik were also present to highlight the salient features of the scheduled festival.

Speaking on the occasion, the AJK minister said that the scheduled festival would provide healthy entertainment and recreation for the tourists especially children from all over AJK and its adjoining parts with prime focus to encourage and promote local tourism.

They said that the grand gala to be free of cost for all the visitors and would attract the tourists from across the country and abroad. It will make the young generation acquainted with the centuries old cultural heritage of the Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir.

A horse and cattle show, trade exhibition of home-made products including the Kashmiri handicrafts, cultural show depicting the Kashmiri folk songs, besides the national songs, book festival, exhibition of the pictures depicting the Indian brutalities and human rights violations by the occupying forces in occupied Kashmir, marathon race, mystic poetry, boating, cricket and football matches besides the local supports, will be the hallmarks of the grand festival, they underlined.

Various committees have been formed to design and manage the events of the grand besides to finalise the programmes in a befitting manner, they added.

The sports minister said that the government was acting upon an integrated plan through launching various projects for the uplift of tourism. The festival would prove to be a step forward for the speedy promotion of tourism in the scenic part of AJK located on the bank of the picturesque Mangla dam lake, he added.

Secretary Information and Tourism of AJK Mrs Midhat Shehzad said that an integrated tourism uplift plan involved the construction and renovation of the state-run rest houses meant for tourists at various scenic places including tourists hub in the liberated territory.

She further said that the state government had started rapid implementation of the master plan in order to attract maximum local and foreign investment in the tourism sector in the liberated territory where conducive atmosphere coupled with huge natural resources and scenic terrain was available for the purpose.

She said that the government had already decided in principal to give tourism the status of industry to utilise the huge available natural resources for the speedy development and uplift of the sector, and to overcome the unemployment through creation of massive job opportunities in the tourism. For the purpose, bright potential was already available in the area, she said.

The AJK government, DGPR AJK Raja Azhar Iqbal said, had scheduled the grand gala that would open new vistas of socioeconomic development and progress of Azad Jammu Kashmir through the promotion of tourism industry under private-public projects. It will also benefit for opening avenues of employment for the jobless educated and other skilled and non-skilled youth, he added.