On his recent trip to the Union Territory, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari claimed tourism in Jammu and Kashmir will increase two to three times, once the tunnel becomes operational. This in turn would offer significant benefits for the region’s economy, he said.
During an inspection of the Zojila Tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir, he also suggested that adventure activities be set up around the tunnel to create more employment opportunities for the locals and attract more tourists to the area.
“Tourism is a sector which creates maximum employment opportunities. Out of 49 per cent of the capital investment in tourism, the maximum expenditure is on employment. This project alone will help create plenty of job opportunities for locals,” the minister added.
This tunnel will provide year-round connectivity between the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, which will be extremely important for the development of Ladakh, promotion of tourism, and improving road connectivity besides facilitating free movement of local goods and movement of Indian armed forces.Thirty eight per cent of the work on the Zojila Tunnel is already completed, shared Gadkari, adding that the government is trying to operationalise at least phase I of the tunnel as soon as possible. With the construction of this tunnel, all-weather hassle-free connectivity between Kashmir to Kanyakumari will be achieved.
The figures rolled out early this year revealed that Jammu and Kashmir recorded 1.88 crore tourists visiting the union territory in 2022. The U/T administration has been focusing on developing various circuits and identifying key segments and destinations to explore the full potential of its tourism sector.
The construction of 19 other tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of INR 25,000 crore, including the ongoing work on the Z-Morh tunnel and Zojila, is also expected to boost tourism and promote social and economic development in the entire region, said Gadkari.
The construction of the Z-Morh tunnel will ensure connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil, and promote tourism in Sonamarg, including activities like whitewater rafting on Thajiwas Glacier and Sindh River, the minister said.