Terror Fails To Put Spoke In Tourists' Plans
26 May 2006
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The grenade attack on a tourist bus killing four persons in Srinagar yesterday seems to have had little impact on tourists to the Valley, going by their travel plans. 'There has not been a single cancellation,' Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department director Farooq Ahmed Shah told The Indian Express today. 'Around 2,000 tourists arrived today. It shows they are undeterred by yesterday's blast.' Shah's assertions proved correct at Boulevard, the tourist hub of the Valley, which was brimming with tourist activity today. The visitors seemed unmindful of yesterday's blast at Zakoora on the outskirts of the city. 'My family members and I arrived on Thursday and we moved around the city today. All of us enjoyed the beauty of the Valley,' said Shariq, a tourist from Baroda in Gujarat. 'We came to know about the blast from our relatives in Gujarat who called us last night and informed us about the death of four fellow tourists here. But we did not change our programme and will stay on for another week.' Shariq and family today enjoyed their trip to the world-famous Dal Lake. Tourists were seen taking a shikara ride on the lake and their faces showed no tension. Suresh Tiwari, another tourist from Gujarat said, 'Violence has become a part of life in every society... why should we flee if there is any violent act here? ' At the Tourist Control Room which works round the clock, a couple from Bhopal were enquiring about accommodation and related information. The tourism officer concerned, Javid Iqbal, was explaining details. 'Today, we received around 12 queries from tourists. Prior to the blast, we used to receive the same number of queries,' said Iqbal to The Indian Express. Private tour and travel operators are relieved that the violence has failed to scare away tourists. Raja Rani travels that had catered to the maximum number of tourists to the Valley last year have been fully booked in advance this year. 'Three hundred tourists are expected to arrive from Mumbai tomorrow. Many of them called today and queried about the situation. We told them everything is fine here,' said Nilesh Kumar of Raja Rani Travels. President of the Houseboat Owners Association, Azeem Toman, is happy that tourist inflow has not been hurt by yesterday's attack. Today, the bodies of the four slain tourists were taken by a special aircraft to Gujarat. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was present at the airport here when the tourists from Gujarat who survived Thursday's attack departed in the same plane.