Eye On Tourist Rush, Kashmir University Launches Course

Eye On Tourist Rush, Kashmir University Launches Course

24 October 2012
The Indian Express
Bashaarat Masood

Srinagar: Buoyed by record tourist footfall, Kashmir University has launched a Masters programme in Travel and Hospitality to churn out trained professionals for the tourism industry, which has the potential to become one of the largest employers in Jammu & Kashmir. “In spite of having tremendous potential, Kashmir has failed to get its share in tourism. One of the major reasons for this is the lack of trained and professional manpower,” said Prof Shabir Ahmad, Dean, Faculty of Commerce and Management. “The aim of the programme is to bridge this gap, to produce trained professional for the tourism industry.” The course was in the pipeline for the past three years but it was only after the state hosted a record number of tourists for the second consecutive year - the number was 1.2 million last year, the highest since 1987, and is likely to cross 1.6 million this year - that the university decided to go ahead. Though one of the oldest industries of Kashmir, there is dearth of trained professionals in tourism, which is expanding beyond the traditional regions now. “Till now, tourism was limited to the golden triangle of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar. But it is expanding now,” said Riyaz Qureshi, a faculty member at the department. “As such there is more need of trained professionals in the industry.” The programme, Qureshi said, would, in the long run, also help streamline tourism policy, which is currently formulated by “non-professionals who disregard several important aspects of tourism”. “There is more focus on sustained and eco-friendly development especially at tourist destinations,” he said. “We can’t take a tourism policy of one state and replicate it in Kashmir. It has been happening here. We need professionals from the valley who know the cultural and ecological sensitivities of the place and keep them in mind while formulating such a policy.” The university, meanwhile, has also launched another two-year course, Masters in Craft Management and Entrepreneurship, the first such course in India.