Kashmir Continues To Lure Tourists Despite Protests, Strikes

Kashmir Continues To Lure Tourists Despite Protests, Strikes

6 April 2013
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Neha Sharma is one among thousands of tourists who have visited Kashmir in the last few weeks despite strikes, curfew and protests which erupted in the Valley after the execution of Afzal Guru on February 9. A fashion designer from New Delhi, Neha arrived a few days ago with her husband and children. “Seeing soaring mountains, lush flower-dotted valleys and the chance to relax in houseboats on Dal lake has been a wonderful experience,” she told Deccan Herald while taking a boat ride on Dal lake on Saturday, the day separatists had called for a complete shutdown. However, the strike had a partial impact in Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley and tourist places were normal. “We had some inhibitions when we booked our tickets last month due to reports of violence. But after coming here, I realised that Kashmir is absolutely peaceful and normal and there is no threat to tourists,” Neha added. Her views were echoed by Ajay, a tourist from Bangalore. “Kashmir is paradise. There might be some political problems but the people of Kashmir are nice and take good care of tourists,” he said. Ajay, along with friends, visited the famous tourist resort of Gulmarg on Friday. “At certain places on the way, youths were throwing stones at the police. However, they didn’t harm us. In fact some of them offered us help. We realised that their anger is towards security forces,” he added. Rouf Tramboo, president of travel agents association of Kashmir, said that in February and March the inflow of tourists to Kashmir had dwindled. “Hanging of Afzal Guru and Bemina fidayeen attack had some impact on the flow of tourists to Kashmir but thank god it is getting better now and it has picked up in the last two weeks,” Tramboo told Deccan Herald. He said more than 30 flights operate between Srinagar and other cities of the country daily these days. “We are waiting for tourists who arrive from mid-April.”