As Guns Boom, Tourists Choose To Stay Away
22 July 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: The spurt in violence in the state seems to be acting as a deterrent for tourists, as the rush has come down to a trickle after the guns started booming again. Every grenade attack or mine blast is making the tourists avoid even Jammu, which has been relatively peaceful. This spells doom for all those associated with the tourism trade, as the graph of tourist inflow has declined sharply. Occupancy in Jammu hotels alone has been reduced by 25 per cent this month. President of Jammu Hotel Restaurant and Bar Association H.S. Anand said: 'Out of the total number of tourists coming to Jammu, around 80 per cent are sadhus. The violence in the Valley has deterred the tourists from coming to the state.' He also blamed the government for ignoring Jammu region. Vice-president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association, Kuldeep Wahi, also minces no words. 'We have submitted a memorandum to the government many times seeking the development of tourist spots here, but to no avail.' 'We were seeking the Gondola project between Bahu Fort and Mubarak Mandi, but the government is only making promises. Development of some of the spots like Surinsar- Mansar, Sudh Mahadev and Purmandal has many times been brought to the notice of the government, but nothing has happened so far,' he added. It is not only hoteliers who rue that Jammu is being ignored, but travel agents are also voicing their concern. 'Kashmir is fully packed while travel agents in Jammu get very less business. The tourists who come from outside get the booking done from their own places,' said Rakesh Gupta of Raj Travels. However, tourism officials say the tourist infrastructure in the state is being developed and many schemes have been formulated to attract tourists in Jammu. Director (Tourism) Ajay Khajuria said, 'We are concentrating on developing various places as tourist villages and we have also identified places that can be developed in our scheme of tourist circuits.'