The United States Administration of President Donald Trump has warned Americans to exercise maximum caution while travelling to India due to a spurt in crime and terrorism.
The advisory has been issued by the US State Department, which asked the American citizens to avoid going to Jammu and Kashmir except for the Buddhist-dominated region of Ladakh.
The State Department had on Wednesday launched improvements on sharing information with US travelers to provide clear, timely and reliable safety and security information.
“Exercise increased caution in India due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk,” the State Department advisory said.
It asked Americans not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir (except Ladakh region and its capital Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest.
It also warned of potential armed conflict within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border in the state.
“The Indian authorities report rape is one of the fastest growing crimes in India. Violent crime, such as sexual assault, has occurred at tourist sites and in other locations,” the advisory said.
“Terrorist or armed groups are active in East Central India, primarily in rural areas,” the advisory said, referring to the armed Naxalites.
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets and shopping malls and local government facilities,”’it said.
“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as US government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these areas,” it said.
The advisory further suggested that Americans desiring to visit India must not travel alone, particularly if they were women.
“US citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations,” the advisory said.
“Due to the fluid nature of the threat, all US government travelers to states with Naxalite activity must receive special authorization from the US Consulate responsible for the area to be visited. US officials travelling only to the capital cities in these states do not need prior authorization,” it added.
Meanwhile, With United States issuing fresh travel advisory for its citizens travelling to Jammu and Kashmir, the tourism players have expressed concern over its broader implications for tourist flow. However Director Tourism Mehmood Ahmad Shah said the advisories keep on updating has no much impact on tourist flow to Kashmir.
He said the travel advisories have excluded Srinagar, Jammu and Ladakh.
Director Tourism Kashmir the department is vigorously engaging with the foreign embassies in New Delhi for travel advisory dilution.
“We invited some foreign ambassadors to our tourism promotional campaign to aware them about Kashmir’s tourism sector. The ambassadors visit Kashmir like a German ambassador visited Kashmir on regular basis. Another Italian ambassador visits Kashmir for trekking,” said Shah.
He the department is hopeful of getting advisories diluted.
He said the backbone of Jammu and Kashmir tourism is domestic tourism.
“There will be no much implications of this travel ban on Kashmir. It was already there.”
Travel trade and hospitality sector, however, express disappointment over such advisories.
Kashmir Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHARA) President Abdul Majeed said they were expecting foreign tourist arrivals but such advisories will hit tourist influx.
Majeed said only 1 percent of the travelers from USA travel to Kashmir.
Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Zahoor Trumboo said travel advisory by US has send a wrong signal worldwide about Kashmir.
“Not many US citizens visit Kashmir but it sends wrong signal across the globe. It will hamper foreign tourist flow to Kashmir,” he said.
Travel Agent Society of Kashmir President Mir Anwar also echoed similar views saying the travel advisory would affect tourist inflow to valley.