A new approach needed
Tourism in Kashmir is witnessing a continuous slump. This winter Jammu and Kashmir witnessed abundant snowfall however, the tourist arrivals were abysmally low compared to what the Valley witnessed during the earlier years.
Similarly, the situation is showing no improvement as the spring season is at its peak. Fewer bookings are taking place and the response of tourists to this place has been quite dejecting.
Though some measures are being taken like organizing familiarisation (FAM) trips for the leading tour operators the situation does not seem to be improving.
Just few days back the state government organized a FAM tour involving leading tour operators of Maharshtra who were called here to check the ground situation and help the state to improve its tourist footfall over the next few months.
Kashmir is the prime summer destination. During summer when there is a lot of heat in Indian plains Kashmir should be getting a big chunk of business through the domestic tourists. However, such a scenario does not emerge.
Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, especially Kashmir valley is purely leisure in nature. Kashmir valley is no pilgrimage tourism destination but its natural beauty enthralls and attracts tourist from all over the world to come here and enjoy the serenity and real nature.
However, more that the turmoil and disturbed conditions, it is the local factors that are forcing tourists to stay away from this place. These factors are being discussed every now and then but no measures are being announced or taken to end the uncertainty the entire Industry faces.
Kashmir as a tourist destination is being plundered by the private airlines that operate here. During winters the airfares to this place were totally uncontrolled as the airfares touched 30k when the Jammu-Srinagar road remained closed for weeks together.
The situation is the same as of now, however, when the summer season peaks the air fares will once again come to haunt the commoners and all those who dream to pay a visit to this place. The fares will once again be touching a new high which will be beyond the reach of a common man.
In such a scenario promoting Kashmir tourism through various promotional campaigns will be nothing more than a mere wastage of government’s resources. The government’s seriousness in getting this issue resolved would have reflected in the measures that it would have taken to get the travel issue sorted out.
The state government should chalk out a programme to get the situation under control. Not only do we need to rope in the private airlines to get the pricing of tickets rationalized but various promotional campaigns targeting the wider audiences through social media networking should also be stressed.
The department of tourism also needs to think out of the box solutions rather than sticking its neck out to the already tested and failed strategies.