Srinagar, Mar 25: As the tourist season is about to commence in Kashmir, people associated with the tourism industry have kept their fingers crossed. They are hoping that tourists would once again start visiting the Valley but it seems they are asking for too much.
Sources told Precious Kashmir that Tourism department officials are under pressure as they have been asked to ensure that negative propaganda against Kashmir is taken care of. “There are reports that some travel agents and tour operators in New Delhi and other cities are busy propagating that Kashmir is unsafe for tourists.”
They said that officials of the Tourism department who have spent huge money to promote Kashmir as the most favourite tourist destination have been asked to ensure that a few people with vested interests don’t succeed in their designs. “Since 2014, when floods hit Kashmir, tourist inflow has declined manifolds. For the past three years not many tourists have visited Kashmir,” sources added.
They said that during the past three years officials of the Tourism department have been assuring the stakeholders that they need not to worry and things would become okay. “Despite department spending a whopping amount to promote Kashmir as a winter destination nothing much was achieved this year. The failure of the Pahalgam winter festival and a few other events left the tourism department red faced,” sources added.
Insiders revealed that if the tourism department fails to woo the tourists this year it could lead to major reshuffle in the department. “Officials of this department during the past three years have traveled to different states across the country. They have even visited foreign countries. Their extravagance and ostentations have dented the state exchequer,” they added.
“Now it’s high time they start delivering,” insiders said. “If they fail in their endeavor government should impose a ban on their trips and the events which they sponsor at the pretext of promoting tourism in Kashmir.”
A senior leader of the Opposition National Conference said, “During our tenure record number of tourists visited Kashmir. Since the day PDP-BJP coalition has come into the power tourists have stopped visiting the Valley. Despite BJP being the coalition partner it keeps on raising the issues which are detrimental for peace. It’s unfortunate that a notion has been created that Kashmiris are war mongers and Kashmir is a dangerous place.”
He said, “You cannot blame tourism officials only for tourists not visiting the Valley. The present regime has created uncertainty in the Valley and it’s responsible for situation taking a dangerous turn.”