Expressing the hope that the tourism activity will pick up again in Kashmir with the return of normalcy, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti said in Delhi that the biggest investment in the State would be to reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Kashmir has seen the worst situations earlier also, but our people have upheld the highest traditions of hospitality and warmth for the visitors even in most difficult times,” the Chief Minister said while addressing the launching function of Bharat International Travel Bazaar (BITB) at Pragati Maidan here.

Union Minister for Tourism, Mr Mahesh Sharma, Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Mehbooba said despite having undergone the most painful situation, the spirit of Kashmiriyat is alive in the people of Kashmir. She said tourism is not just about landscapes and beauty, it is an avenue for cultural exchange and sharing of ideas. “Tourism helps not only in generating economic activity, but also helps build strong emotional bonding,” she said.

Maintaining that among any places around, Kashmir continues to be safest for women, the Chief Minister said; “Out of any place in the world, including Delhi, women are safest in my Kashmir. That’s the biggest thing my state can offer.”

She said compared to any place in the world, including Delhi, women are girls are safest in our state. “There is no fear of getting raped in a car. They move around in shikaras and houseboats,” she added.

Mehbooba urged people of other states to visit Jammu and Kashmir in order to build confidence among people. “Biggest confidence building measure is if you visit our state, it shows that you trust us,” said Mehbooba Mufti.

She said that the State Government is building state-of-the-art tourism infrastructure and recently Rs 500 crore have been released by the Central Government for the purpose.

Hailing the democratic values of India, Mehbooba Mufti said her late father and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had immense faith in India’s democracy and “we continue to believe in a tolerant and secular India.”