Kashmir Tourism In Slump, 40 Per Cent Dip In Arrivals

26 June 2015
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: Flood scare and recent attacks on cell towers have badly affected the tourist inflow in Kashmir. Sources informed Greater Kashmir that this year till May around 1.74 tourists visited Kashmir including 15000 foreigners. However, according to them, the figure is 40 per cent down from 3.70 lakh tourists who came Kashmir between January and May 2014. The tourism sector post-September floods is in distress as the arrivals have not picked up, the stakeholders said attributing the downfall to negative publicity of Kashmir tourism industry by a section of outside electronic media and the recent attacks on cell towers which created panic among intending visitors. According to latest economic survey in 2012, Kashmir received 13,08,765 domestic-foreign tourists, in 2013 1,17,1130, in 2014 1,16,7618 and in 2015 January only 34,474 tourists came to Kashmir which figure went up to 1,74,000 ending May. The tourism players said a sequence of events which unfolded after April 2015 was responsible for the decline in tourism. 'First it was flood scare created by some outside media outlets which dissuaded intending visitors to come to Kashmir. Then attacks on cell towers deteriorated the scenario,' Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers' Club, Mushtaq Chaya said. He said the tourist arrivals this season are far below last year. 'Although the Chief Minister personally went to promote Kashmir tourism, by the time the promotional campaigns were started the damage had already been done to this sector.' President, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, GM Dug said: 'Government has totally neglected this sector as the tourism traders were neither compensated for losses they incurred during floods nor any package such as soft loans was announced in their favour.' President, Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, KHARA, Showkat Chowdhary said: 'Tourism arrivals are below our expectation and we hope it would increase in coming days,' he said. Last month, during his Mumbai tour, Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had invited filmmakers to Kashmir to boost tourism in the state. The Chief Minister met some of big guns in Bollywood that include Dilip Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Anupam Kher, Rishi Kapoor, Irfan Khan and others. However, as per the tourism traders it has failed to make any big impact on the ground due to negative campaign which reduced the flow before tourism season had began in the Valley.