Tourism deptt caught on wrong foot again

Tourism deptt caught on wrong foot again
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Purchases items at exorbitant rates, Pahalgam winter festival a ‘flop show’

Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Mar 15: Tourism department is in the news once again for wrong reasons.
Sources told Precious Kashmir that department has purchased items worth lakhs from the open market at exorbitant prices and the matter is being looked into.
They said that small items like sandwich makers which are available in the open market for Rs 1200/ to Rs 1300/ have been purchased for Rs 2300/. And these have been purchased in bulk.
They said that there are many items like sandwich makers which have been purchased at the higher rates despite the department issuing tenders for the same.
Insiders revealed that the department organized Pahalgam winter festival last month in a very haphazard manner. “The event management company which was given the contract to organize the event had no past experience and was picked by the department out of blues,” they said.
“No tenders were issued and no rates were fixed. The company was asked to submit the consolidated bill after organizing the event,” they added.
Sources said that Tourism department had organized the event to woo the tourists from outside states to promote winter tourism in Pahlagam. “Even the big advertisements were given in national dailies to invite the tourists from outside states but not a single tourist visited Pahalgam.”
They said, “On the other hand no attempt was made to invite local tourists who could have reached Pahalgam to participate in the festival. As a result the festival turned out to be a flop show.”
Director Tourism Mehmood Shah admitted that no tenders were issued for managing the event. “We had told them (event management company) to present the consolidated bill at the end of the event.”
He couldn’t give any satisfactory answer about why the event proved to be a “flop show.”
Insiders alleged that festival was conducted in a “secret manner” just to “loot public money” and nothing else. “Tourism department has been indulging in such activities just to remain busy and prove it on the papers that activities are on to woo the tourists,” they added.
A travel agent said, “Our industry has taken a hit as the footfall of tourists has declined manifolds. The tall claims of the department to woo the tourists have proved to be a hoax and nothing else.”
He said, “Officials of the Tourism department are busy in foreign trips and other adventures. They are wasting the tax payers money at the pretext of promoting tourism. They are enjoying life at the cost of our livelihood.”