A parliamentary panel has recommended that the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the Ministry of Tourism and other stakeholders must try to remove "negative publicity" in the press of the region and use social media to "promote" a more positive image of it. The 280th report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture — "Action Taken by the Government on the Recommendations/ Observations of the Committee Contained in its Two Hundred and Seventieth Report on 'Development of Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir'" said that industry bodies should also be encouraged to hold meetings and visit the region. "The committee recommends that the state government, Ministry of Tourism and the various other stakeholders must endeavour to remove the negative publicity in the press by finding innovative means to engage with the world at large via the social media. "In this age of You Tube and social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, social media influencers may be engaged to promote a more positive image of the state," the panel said.
It recommended that the state government engage with ASSOCHAM, CII and FICCI to invite and encourage companies to host meetings and visits in the region. "The committee feels that websites of the Ministry of Tourism and its various arms should be made interactive and user-friendly. Mobile applications and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. should be harnessed as a quick and cost effective medium for tourism marketing," the panel said. The ministry in its reply said that it proactively leverages the potential of social media in marketing and promotion of India, both in the domestic as well as in the overseas markets. It also said that it maintains accounts in leading social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo and Periscope. "Since, May 2016, a professional social media agency has been appointed to manage the social media activities on ministry's social media handles. A large number of posts/tweets/messages are regularly posted/tweeted on various facets of India including Jammu and Kashmir with a view to provide wide publicity about various destinations in India, it said. The committee, headed by Rajya Sabha MP TG Venkatesh presented its 280th, 281th, 282th, 283th, 284th, 285th and 286th reports to Parliament on Wednesday. Another recommendation of the committee is that in order to provide safety against accidents to the tourist vehicles especially after sunset till sunrise, mobile ambulances should be made available with a facility to provide immediate first aid to injured tourists on the spot and carry them later to the nearest hospital for further treatment. A toll-free helpline number can also be launched, it said.
The parliamentary committee also recommended that a web-based monitoring system be developed to review the physical progress of road projects in pilgrimage destinations and border towns of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The panel , in another report on cargo handling at major ports, has also recommended that to boost cruise tourism at NMPT, a separate task force on cruise tourism should be formed jointly by the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Shipping with representatives of all major stakeholders. The committee would like the ministry to furnish the details of cruise terminal projects and related infrastructure projects sanctioned to the Mangalore Port.
The panel has also advised the relevant department to prepare an analysis report of all the major ports and also those minor ports which are situated near ecologically sensitive regions like protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries, ecological hotspots and marine ecosystems. The study should focus on causes and remedial steps taken by the authorities concerned to tackle oil spillage, hazardous cargo, dirty and dusty cargo, it said. On basis of such report, an Action Taken Plan must be prepared to prevent such unforeseen situations in future so as to protect the environment, it added.