With the gradual return of normalcy in the Valley, the Autumn Golf Tournament was organised at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar on Sunday. 92 participants, including a handful from out of state, took part in the event which was teed off by Divisional Commissioner, Baseer Ahmed Khan.
“The past five months have been very hard on the tourism sector. We saw so many flight cancellations. But traffic is slowly beginning to trickle in,” said Director of Tourism, Mahmud Ahmad Shah, who was also present at the event. “This tournament will give a thrust to tourism in the state. It offers golfers the beauty of playing in the autumn colours.”
The Tourism Ministry, directly under Chief Minister Mufti, is now looking to revive the sector by showcasing Kashmir as a high-end golfing and conference tourism destination. “We hope to lace the state with adjacent golf and conference infrastructure,” said a tourism department official. “This golf course is next to the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre. We are introducing similar clubbing in Jammu, Pahalgam, Leh, and Gulmarg.”
Secretary of Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah, stated, “We are trying to develop a world-class tourism infrastructure to fulfil the dream of Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who wanted Jammu and Kashmir to be one of the best travel destinations in the world.”
“To attract tourists we had for the first time organised golf road shows in many cities including Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Banglore,” said Mahmud Shah. “Now we have been brought back to square one. But we will start again with a series of promotion road shows and tie-ups with golf clubs around the country.”
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The players at the tournament said that the government should help budding talents in the state by providing them with essential resources and bringing in expert coaches.
The Best Team Trophy, the highest award at the tournament, was bagged by Nitin Wazir and Dr Zafar Khanday, who won by a margin of 7-up. “We hope that the state government organises district-level tournaments for youngsters to give a boost to the new generation of golfers,” the duo said after the prize ceremony.