Bandipora, Sept 27: The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department has accomplished a remarkable achievement after the Dawar village of Gurez valley in North Kashmir's Bandipora district clinched the coveted title of the best tourism village in the country.
The recognition was conferred by the Union Ministry of Tourism and was received by the J&K Tourism Secretary Syed Abid Rashid on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir government.
The Dawar village secured the top spot in the highly esteemed "golden category" among all villages across the nation.
Deputy Director Tourism for Publicity Deeba Khalid told Rising Kashmir that the competition involved the shortlisting of three tourist villages from each state and union territory and selections were then submitted to the Ministry of Tourism for consideration.
Deeba further said that the villages underwent a rigorous selection process, with criteria including their uniqueness in terms of culture, tourism potential, availability of homestays, and the number of local residents engaged in the tourism sector, among other factors.
The competition, organized by Rural Tourism under the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, witnessed Dawar Village of Gurez emerging victorious over 30 other shortlisted villages from various regions across the country.
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha congratulated J&K Tourism department and District Administration Bandipora on achieving the feat.
"Incredible achievement for J&K on World Tourism Day! Dawar village of beautiful Bandipora has been recognised as the best tourism village in the Gold category. Congratulations @SyedAbidShah @JandKTourism and @dcbandipora @owais_ias", Office of the Lieutenant Governor J&K posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
While acknowledging the feat, a top tourism official told Rising Kashmir that it holds significant promise for the encouragement and promotion of tourism within the Union Territory.
He said that recognition of Dawar village in the prestigious "golden category" stands as undeniable evidence of the exceptional allure and tourism potential inherent to the scenic border valley.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmed said that "It is a source of immense pride for district Bandipora and Gurez following its earlier recognition as the 'Best Offbeat Tourist Destination' in 2022."
He also said that this remarkable recognition reflects the dedication of various stakeholders and their contributions toward the continued promotion of tourism in Gurez Valley.
Notably, the Gurez Valley was honored with the Best Offbeat Destination Award in 2022, a recognition that distinguished it as the premier secluded tourist destination in India. This accolade was conferred upon Gurez Valley during a ceremony hosted by "Outlook Traveler Magazine" in Delhi, where it received the prestigious gold award.
Gurez, with its population of approximately 38,000 residents, has already welcomed 50,000 tourists this year. This substantial increase in tourist arrivals is a noteworthy achievement when compared to previous years when the maximum annual tourist count in Gurez stood at a mere 5,000 visitors.