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Anantnag attack, a setback for tourist arrivals in Kashmir

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Tour Operators say such incidents encourage cancellations

Srinagar: After witnessing an increase in tourist arrivals during last few days, Kashmir’s hospitality industry has received a set-back due to the fidayeen attack at Anantnag on Wednesday as local stakeholders say such incidents encourage cancellations.
As per official figures, number of tourist arrivals during last few days had witnessed an upsurge with more than five thousand tourist arriving on daily basis, which the tour operators’ fear will get badly affected by Anantnag like incidents.
A tour operator, not wishing to be identified said that the pleasant weather in the Valley during last few days was encouraging for tourists who had started visiting here to escape the heat wave prevailing in rest of the country. However, he says curious queries from tourists have started coming soon after Tuesday’s attack.
“We were quite enthusiastic about the increase in tourist arrivals touching 6000 figure for last few days but the attack has come as a set-back. We are receiving some cancellation calls while as others have put their tour itineraries on hold for now,” he said.
Notably, the tour operators were hoping for a revival of tourism sector in the Valley especially after series of promotional events conducted by tourism department and local stakeholders of the tourism industry.
The Anantnag attack has also worried tour operators who deal with foreign visitors.
Irshad Ahmad, a tour operator who mostly facilitates tourists from South-east Asia nations such as Malaysia says the arrivals from these countries was about to pick up after the gap of Ramadhan but incidents such as Anantnag is proving to be a dampener.
“Mostly the Muslim country tourists such as Bangladesh and Malaysia who often visit us don’t travel during Ramdhan. But now that we were hoping for groups of tourists from these countries we are skeptical due to such attacks,” said Irshad.
Irshad said the tourists from Malaysia, Thailand, Bangaldesh and some other countries had continued to visit the Valley despite advisories from their Delhi-based embassies barring them from visiting Kashmir.
“We had almost 20,000 foreign tourist arrivals during first three months of the year and were hoping for a further increase but now we are keeping our fingers crosses,” Irshad added.
Even government officials admit that Anantnag sort of incidents are proving to counterproductive for the promotion of tourism being undertaken in various states and even in foreign countries.
Nisar Ahmad Wani, director Tourism Kashmir said the footfall had started picking up since last few days adding that department had several local promotional events in the pipeline.
“In order to overcome the negative portrayal we have lined up a host of local promotional events from white water rafting to Doodhpathri festival. We are constantly making efforts to attract more tourists to the Valley,” said Wani.
“We are also utilizing social media to create a buzz that Kashmir is safe for tourists,” Wani said. (with inputs from KNO)

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