J&K tourism hit by terrorism

Boating on the picturesque Dal Lake in Srinagar.Boating on the world famous Dal  Lake, Dinesh Kumar of Delhi and his family members are highly impressed by the scenic beauty in Kashmir. “It is truly a paradise on earth,” his wife, Usha said.

The family arrived here from Delhi on a week long tour. Having already visited the picturesque Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Sonmarg they are now spending the rest of their time in a house boat on Dal Lake. It serves as a base to visit the famous Moghul Gardens and other places in Srinagar.

It is for the first time that Dinesh and his family is visiting the Valley. He said “We had decided many times earlier to visit Kashmir but it never materialized due to personal reasons. But this time despite the general strike and protests in Valley, we decided to go ahead and succeeded.

He opined they felt extremely safe during their visit to Kashmir. Nobody harassed or harmed us. In fact people are very hospitable and cooperative.

For us now Kashmir has become a second home. Sitting in Delhi, we always thought that Kashmir was burning an impression conditioned largely by viewing the electronic media.”
He added that once in Valley, he and his family forgotten about some of the unpleasant developments in Kashmir and focused more on enjoying its scenic beauty. Usha said:  “Some of our relatives go to European countries during vacations. I would suggest to them about visiting Kashmir. For one it is simplify beautiful and secondly the travel fares do not cost as much,” said Usha. She added: “More and more people from different parts of the country must come here and should not feel scared. If we strengthen the tourism sector in Srinagar with our visits, I feel we are doing a national service”.

Mr Ashwani another tourist felt that disturbances in the Valley discourage people from outside visiting the Valley. He said: “The two decade long violence has badly hit the tourism sector. And if anything untoward happens here it attracts national and international attention and further affects tourism. People want to visit Kashmir to relax rather than risk their lives,” he said.

Mohammad Azeem Tuman, president houseboat owners’ association (HOA) said this year the tourism season was adversely affected owing to strikes and curfews. He opined that “First some TV news channels wrongly reported the arrival of Taliban in Kashmir. The misconception was immediately removed by the state government. Then  protests and strikes over the alleged rape and killing of a teenaged girl and her sister in law in Shopian destroyed the tourism season,” he said.

Tuman said that later some more incidents that occurred in Baramulla and Kupwara, also jolted tourism activity. With a new government in office after peaceful assembly polls, we expect huge tourist inflows this year. In fact thousands of visitors booked in  advance at  hotels and houseboats. But after these disturbances, their  bookings were cancelled,”. Tariq Ahmad, an official in tourism department, said the state government too is upset with the lower number of tourist arrivals into Kashmir.

“Certain things are not in our control. We try our level best to attract visitors to the Valley. But when any untoward incident occurs, it immediately affects tourism. Thousands of people, associated with tourism, are subsequently put to loss,” he said.

Tariq believes that a visitor can enjoy different types of scenic beauty in Kashmir from beautiful lakes and water falls to meadows and snow clad mountains, besides attractive landscapes, and verdant meadows. Gulmarg has the highest cable car in the world. Golf courses are another attraction. I am optimistic that with the situation improving now, more tourists would visit Kashmir,” he said.

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