Negative publicity kept visitors away from Kashmir, Ladakh got tourism windfall

As Kashmir tourism fails to recuperate after being hit by unrest in 2016, Ladakh has recorded an increased footfall of foreign as well as domestic tourists.
Although the turbulence in the Kashmir valley cast a shadow over the tourism sector in Ladakh, the unrest has turned out to a blessing in disguise for Ladakhi people as domestic tourists cancelled their trip to Kashmir and travelled to the cold desert.
“The unrest impacted the Ladakh’s tourism in both negative and positive way. Due to the trouble in the Kashmir valley, this year’s tourism season started on a low note as the number of tourists visiting Ladakh in March-April was small as compared to the corresponding period last year. The people who wanted to visit Ladakh via the Srinagar-Leh highway cancelled their trips,” Tsering Sangdup, Executive Councillor (Tourism), Leh Council, told Kashmir Post over phone.
Sangdup added, “On the positive side, the visitors intending to undertake the Kashmir visit diverted their journey to Ladakh which gave a boost to our tourism sector. The number of tourists, both foreigners and domestic, visiting Ladakh this year is more compared to the last year despite high airfare and this figure will go up further as the tourism season is still in progress.”
The high footfall in Ladakh would definitely give a boost to its economy which was largely dependent on the tourism sector, the Executive Councillor said, adding, “We have been suffering because of the wrong portrayal of J&K. The foreign tourists’ number can go up further but they are reluctant to visit Ladakh because a wrong impression has been sent outside that Kashmir means Ladakh also.”
According to Assistant Tourism Director, Leh, Tsering Angmo, a total of 2,28,642 tourists, including 40,981 foreigners, had visited Leh district till September 19. The number of total foreign tourists visiting Leh, from January to December last year, was 38,005 only while the number of domestic tourists stood at 1,97,693 in 2016.
Similarly, the total number of tourists visiting Kargil district, including the Zanskar valley till August-end was 60,957, including 2,921 foreigners. “The number has witnessed a slight increase this year as compared to 2016,” a Tourism Department official said.
Tourism Director, Kashmir, MA Shah said the unrest and violence post-Burhan Wani killing had affected the tourism sector in the Valley.
“The killing of Burhan Wani and his successor Sabzar Ahmad, daily encounters and the wrong portrayal of Kashmir outside J&K have seriously dented the tourism industry. No doubt a steep decline has been witnessed in tourists’ footfall in Kashmir despite our concerted efforts. We cannot share the statistics regarding it at this point of time as the government will release the figures only after the end of this year,” Shah said.

2.28 lakh tourists visit Ladakh

According to Assistant Tourism Director, Leh, Tsering Angmo, a total of 2,28,642 tourists, including 40,981 foreigners, visited Leh district till this year
The number of total foreign tourists visiting Leh, from January to December last year, was 38,005 only while the number of domestic tourists stood at 1,97,693 in 2016