Tourists Should Not Feel They Have Landed In A War Zone’

Tourists Should Not Feel They Have Landed In A War Zone’

3 June 2012
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Expressing concern over the security hassles faced by the tourists visiting Kashmir, the stakeholders of the tourism industry have stressed on the need to make the visitors feel at home during their stay in the valley. Various issues hampering the tourism sector were discussed in a five-hour marathon meeting between the newly appointed Director Tourism, Talat Parvez and tour operators, hoteliers and houseboat owners at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) here on Sunday. Pervez says he wanted to have a detailed interaction with the tour operators in order elicit their views about the prevailing tourism scenario in order to chalk out a plan for addressing the problems. During the meeting, the tour operators and travel agents expressed concern over the “war zone-like situation” right from the Srinagar airport to the places where tourists are lodged. “The formalities have to be softened up. A tourist should feel secure and not as if he has landed in a war zone,” says Mubeen Shah, President of Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries. He says instead of CID, tourism department should be assigned the job to collect details from foreign travellers. Speaking on the occasion, former Director General Tourism, M. Ashraf says during Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah’s tenure, heavy security checking and other formalities for tourists were removed. “I think strict security procedure at the airport leads to harassment of tourists. I believe it is illegal,” he says. “If security related formalities were removed in Shiekh Abdullah’s time, why can’t we do it now as well?” Seconding Ashraf , General Secretary Kashmir Economic Alliance, Siraj Ahmed says, “Tourists need to feel at home after arriving in Kashmir . Heavy presence of forces right from the airport creates a negative impact on the minds of tourists. They think they have entered a war zone. This is a major concern of tour operators in Kashmir,” he says. Siraj also says that there has to be a hassle-free traffic management system for the tourists in Srinagar city. “We need not connect tourism with politics,” he says. Assuring full support to the tour operators, Pervaz says he will take up the matter of security hassles with IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai. Leading tour operators of the valley including Rouf Tramboo, Nasir Shah, Faiz Bhakshi, G A Dag says though Kashmir was witnessing a good tourist season, there was a need to lift travel advisories. The newly appointed director tourism says all the stakeholders, including the tourism department and the tour operators, have to work like a team on important issues like maintaining hygiene, improving quality services for tourists and strengthening the tourism infrastructure. “Once all these things are done, I am sure many countries will lift their travel advisories on Kashmir. Hygiene is important as foreign tourists are fond of clean environment and atmosphere,” he says.