Ather Kirmani

Crores spent with no tourism in Kashmir this spring

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Srinagar people who are connected with tourist trade here are not enthused by the efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department to bring back tourists here.Many travel agents told voice of valley that it seems now the spring segment will not pick up.they have appealed chief minister Mehbooba Mufti who is also state tourism minister to take up tangible steps to saver the current season from being another wash out year for them.Appealing for her direct intervention these travel agents said that the senior officials of tourism department were presenting rosy picture to her to justify their trips throughout the country in the name of bringing tourists to Kashmir.

Before the start of the current tourist season,tourism department has spent 3.87crores on promotion of tourism here and most of the money according to local travel agents was spent on travelling and lodging expenses of these officials.
Reports said that the many senior officers of the tourism department used to go ahead of the official programmes alongwith their families and enjoyed the visits in the name of getting tourists to Kashmir. According to the data available many officials of the tourism department were able to manage such paid holidays with their families in the name of tourism promotion for Kashmir in the summer of year 2016.
In the current season also bills on the account of promotional events including road shows are being cleared by the government for these officials of the tourism department with no results on the ground.
Huge advertisement campaign in and outside the state is also going on while the government recently refused to sponsor the efforts of the local tour operators to do their bid to bring tourists here.
The tourism department has participated in national and international travel events to promote Kashmir with no success.The stakeholders in local tourist trade here have said that it was high time for the government to introspect and stop allowing crores of public money going down the drain and allow and sponsor the local travel agents to do their efforts to bring back tourists to Kashmir.
New attraction of tulip garden to bring tourists to Kashmir in spring season has flopped but the tourism department is clearing bills for the huge advertisement campaign they have unleashed but with zero results.
Tourism industry in Kashmir was badly hit by the floods of year 2014and could not pick up again.when the local travel agents by their efforts were able to get back tourists in the summer of year 2016 the months long unrest dealt a body blow to this sector.
As the foot fall of tourists is all time low in the current season with virtually no bookings the government seems lulled into sleep by the far fetched figures being provided by the officials of the tourism department.
On the top of it is the negative campaign launched by many national news channels giving half truths and painting entire Kashmir as radicalised and burning in violence.
Local tourist players are aghast at the silence of the mehbooba mufti dispensation on this issue.they said that the government could have intervened in the matter to stop channels from spewing venom against Kashmir.

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