SRINAGAR — With an aim of promoting tourism, Jammu and Kashmir government has set established a single window clearance system for granting permission for shooting Bollywood movies within seven days in the Valley.
"We have established a single window clearance system for film shoots in Kashmir. These permissions will be granted within seven days of application," Commissioner Secretary Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir government Shailendra Kumar told PTI.
Kashmir was a favourite outdoor shooting destination for Bollywood movies before the eruption of militancy in 1990. The Valley is again finding favour with the producers as legendary Yash Chopra's last directorial venture starring Shah Rukh Khan 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' was extensively shot in Kashmir.
Critically-acclaimed 'Haider' -- Vishal Bhardwaj's adaption of Shakespeare's Hamlet -- was entirely shot in Kashmir, leading to Salman Khan-starrer 'Bhajrangi Bhaijaan' having an extended shoot in the valley.
Kumar said more and more Bollywood movies are being shot in the state, especially Kashmir, which will go a long way in promoting tourism.
"Pahalgam was famous even before (Sunny Deol's debut movie) 'Betaab' was shot there but the tourists would only go to a particular point.
After the movie, we created Betaab Valley and tourists want to visit it," he said.
The official said the increasing number of Bollywood movies being shot in Kashmir will help in perception management about the situation in the Valley.
"When the movies are being shot in Kashmir, it will send a message across the country that we are on the path to normalcy. We hope it will lead to more tourist arrivals," he added.
The other factor which the state government wants to tap is the popularity of the Bollywood movies for giving a boost to the state economy.
"Naturally, we expect more footfall of tourists when the beautiful places of Kashmir are showcased in the movies.
Tourism at the moment is contributing seven per cent of the state's Gross Domestic Product... It has the potential to go up to 30 per cent and we are trying to tap every possible avenue for achieving it," Kumar said.
Although Kumar did not have any empirical figures for the number of people benefitting from tourism in Kashmir, he said an estimated 50 per cent people earn livelihood directly or indirectly from this sector.
"You have hoteliers, including the staff, which finds employment in these hotels, shikarawallahs, transporters, handicrafts producers and sellers, restaurants... It would not be wrong to say that every second person is benefitted by tourism," he added.
Kumar said the state government was not providing any incentives to the movie producers for shooting in the state but was acting as a facilitator.
"We are acting as facilitators only. Yes, we do not charge the shooting units in 99 per cent of the cases as it does not affect the public services. Wherever public services are affected, we do charge them," he added.