Tourism sector on the brink of disaster

Kashmir needs no introduction as a tourism destination and its rich history is known the world over. Over the years, huge investment from the government as well as the public has played a vital role in making it a world famous tourism destination. Although it has got everything to qualify as a world-class tourism destination the prevailing political scenario and the wrong economic policies of the government, step-motherly treatment of government of India towards Kashmir and negative media publicity has turned this industry and the people associated with it on the threshold of bankruptcy.

Kashmiris have been optimistic over the years but now our pessimism is growing each passing day.

Stakeholders who have made huge investments have fallen into a debt trap and most of them have turned into extreme depression now. People working for the tourism sector mostly come from poor economic strata of the society and most of them have lost their jobs and this critical situation has made it very difficult for them to meet their ends.

The only good sign seems to be tourist inflow from the Far East and countries like Bangladesh apart from the local tourism market which has seen a sharp decline in the recent past.

Kashmir is bestowed with nature and serene surroundings but human greed has turned some of our tourist areas into concrete jungles which makes these areas look very shabby. We should protect our environment as responsible citizens and save our ecology and environment. Sustainable tourism is what we should concentrate upon.

Cross LoC tourism and opening of silk route:
We must not pin our hopes on the Indian domestic market for time being and build a pressure on the Government of India to open cross LoC
Tourism and opening of the silk route.

Over the years LoC trade has brought Kashmiris from both the Indian and Pakistani administered regions of Kashmir together. This has created a room for discussion and profound transformation of the Fellows’ approach to, and understanding of, the conflict.

Practical steps need to be taken, so we have something to build on. We should engage people now, and continue to do so as we take this cross LoC tourism work forward, so people have ownership of this tourism and it builds confidence.

If both the Governments of India and Pakistan allow cross LoC Tourism it will be the biggest CBM and great contributor of Kashmir economy.

Above all, the opening of silk route will see tourists of China and central Asian countries for which we, in fact, would want to build more infrastructures to cater to the huge deficit in demand and supply.

Opening of silk route, appointment of Brand Ambassador on the lines of Gujarat, PR Agency of national repute, tourism policy, sustainable tourism, promotion of brand Kashmir in foreign markets particularly Far east, Cross LOC tourism are the steps which we need to take immediately or else we as a tourism destination are doomed to perish.

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