Chennai: The Jammu and Kashmir tourism department will target Mumbai-based corporates for promoting Ladakh as an ideal location for meetings, conferences and exhibitions, an official said.
The Kashmir government is also looking at the possibility of allowing the private sector that manages some hotels and cottages owned by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (J&KTDC).
"This year, we are focussing on the Mumbai corporate sector for the meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) segment. Many business conferences are being held in Ladakh. A convention centre is also being built there," Talat Parvez, Kashmir Tourism Department director told reporters here late Friday.
He said business conventions take place in Ladakh in good numbers.
Expressing satisfaction over the performance of cottages owned by J&KTDC, Parvez said the department was looking at the option of allowing the private sector to manage some of its cottages.
"We have got an offer from a Malaysian party for this," he said.
He said many hotel projects were coming up in Kashmir, and the number of rooms - currently around 25,000 - is expected to go up to 40,000 in the next two years.
"Similarly, homestay outlets would also go up to 20,000 units from the current 12,000," he said.
He said though October-November earlier used to be a lean season for tourism, the situation changed in the last couple of years as a large number of tourists came from Malaysia and Singapore.
Parvez said nearly 70 percent of the overseas tourists to Kashmir were from Southeast Asian countries while the rest 30 percent were from Europe and other places.
"Tourists from Southeast Asian countries stay for around five days and spend more per day, compared to Europeans who spend around 7-10 days and look at cheaper hoteling options," he said.
The inclusion of several countries under the visa-on-arrival scheme is expected to boost tourist inflow to Kashmir, he said.
The majority of tourists to Kashmir are from within the country and the department is now offering 20 new circuits - Buddhist, Shiva, agro and herbal among others, he added.
The tourism department has tied up with the Jammu and Kashmir State Agro Industries Development Corporation Ltd. for the agro circuit, where tourists can see the processing of honey and other products.
"We can show the harvesting of chestnuts, lotus and other products," he added.
Parvez said Indian film producers have started looking at Kashmir as a good shooting location.
The state government was also planning to introduce a scheme, whereby a film that promotes tourism would be funded up to 30 percent of its total budget, or Rs.3 million, whichever is less, he said.
"Only one film will be funded in a year and the storyline has to be approved by the government," Parvez said.