Valley Tourism Again Takes A Hit

22 April 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
M Aamir Khan

Srinagar: Despite improvement in the law and order situation after the recent killing of a teenager in Budgam police firing and inclement weather conditions, the Valley's tourism sector is on tenterhooks yet again. The stakeholders are claiming that 40 per cent of the bookings stand cancelled for May, when the tourism season used to peak. 'Last September during floods, the arrivals were zero and we are yet to recover the losses. Now, there have been 40 per cent cancellations for May,' said Pahalgam Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association (PHAROA) president Javed B Burza. The influx of tourists was hit badly by the devastating floods of September and the looming flood threat in March last month had yet again led to the cancellation of bookings. And now, after the killing of a youth at Narbal in Budgam district, stakeholders say the tourism sector is again in an 'unenviable' position. 'The tourism industry in general and the hotel and restaurant sector in particular once again finds itself in an unenviable position. Tourism is once again bleeding. The tourist arrivals have hit the bottom,' Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) president GM Dug told reporters here today. He said news emanating from the Valley, especially about the rally and arrest of separatist leader Masarat Alam, had been blown out of proportion by the media, causing a scare among intending tourists. However, a Tourism Department official said the arrivals had started picking up and they had started a promotional campaign to woo back tourists. He said Director, Tourism, Kashmir, Farooq Shah had recently participated in Great Indian Travel Bazaar at Jaipur and there were planning events at other parts of the country for the promotion of tourism. However, efforts of the Tourism Department have failed to impress the hoteliers. Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) joint secretary general Faiz Bakshi said the department was not visiting the right places and they needed to do more homework for the promotion of Kashmir tourism. GM Dug too claimed that these campaigns were non-productive. 'The Tourism Department is holding road shows and fairs at places from where we do not receive any tourists while neglecting potential places such as Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Kolkata from where we receive more than 80 per cent of the tourists,' he said. The hoteliers also urged Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who also holds the Tourism Ministry portfolio, to personally lead the promotional campaigns outside the state, which they said 'would make a huge impact'.