In a unique and innovative way, the Department of Tourism has organized a capacity building program for various actors associated with the tourism sector on the implementation of appropriate COVID-19 protocols while carrying out their activities in the post-pandemic environment.
The inaugural program was chaired by the secretary of the tourism department, Sarmad Hafeez, while as the director of Kashmir tourism, GN Itoo, other senior officials and officials of the department, as well as various tourism stakeholders (Shikarawallas , houseboat owners, Dal Lake floating market traders, etc.) were present during the program.
In his remarks on this occasion, Sarmad Hafeez said that the program was organized with the aim of raising awareness among different tourism stakeholders of COVID-19 protocols while carrying out their commercial activities. He said that through this capacity building program, training will be provided to all stakeholders associated with the tourism sector so that tourists visiting Kashmir during this season can feel safe while visiting here. “All stakeholders having an interface with tourists will be trained through this capacity building program on Covid-19 protocols and SOPs,” said Sarmad Hafeez.
Stressing the need for such a program, the secretary said that the decline in the number of Covid-19 cases, the coverage of over 80% of stakeholders during vaccination campaigns has given the department the confidence to train and educate tourism stakeholders on the post COVID-19 situation. and prepare them for the same. He said the Department is providing constant support to these stakeholders in these difficult times. He added that apart from this program, a vaccination campaign has been organized for all those who are directly or indirectly involved in this sector so that as more and more people start to visit the Kashmir Valley, they are not in danger or do not feel safe ”.
On the future initiatives of the department, Sarmad Hafeez also said that this type of programs will be organized in all tourist destinations like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg and other places in the coming days so that the actors involved in tourism trade like hoteliers, Ponywallas and others concerned are informed of COVID protocols and SOPs to be followed when caring for tourists in the coming seasons.
On this occasion, the secretary commended the ministry for organizing this program in a unique and innovative way in the middle of Dal Lake with good participation of barge owners, Shikarawalals, floating market traders and other related segments of the tourism sector.
As a special feature of the program, several local artists performed skits, local folklore and traditional songs as well as the culturally significant Ladi Shah stressing the importance of following Covid protocols while managing daily business activities.
The Shikaras were lined up in a circular ring and in the middle, the performers captivated audiences with messages and precautions relevant to COVID-19 to watch.