But afterwards the incompatible interventions from top to bottom proved disastrous because of the virtually juvenile handling of this sensitive sector which is the representation of the State’s socio-cultural rich heritage.
This sector although not contributing much in direct GDP of the state has immense impact on the other allied sectors concerning the common man and specifically the thousands and lakhs of people associated with it. The thoughtful voices have been disappointed by the juggling acts in the sector which almost has ruined the charm and sheen of this dignified sector shattering the psyche of its legends who had worked hard to maintain the legacy of Kashmir Tourism.
People in general and travel traders in particular are aghast and dejected the way this sector has been and is being handled by people who don’t have concept and imagination of Kashmir Tourism and are barren of ideas and innovation.
They say that “we have seen most difficult phases but the Tourism sector was handled by mature sensible people who worked strategically to revive it.”
“The very recent trajectory of incidents have proven the last nail in the coffin and is proving very disastrous for Kashmir tourism,” said one of the travel trade representatives.
He said that ITM is one of the important travel trade show in which Kashmir travel trade was not allowed to participate which can be seen as a biased act.
Similarly the budget for Kargil and Leh has been enhanced from Rs 15 to Rs 50 lakh each while Kashmir is being consistently ignored.
Chairman of Pilgrim & Leisure Tour Operators’ Forum – J&K (PILTOF), Nasir Shah while talking to Kashmir News Service (KNS) said that Kashmir tourism department couldn’t attend the ITM as the department is currently headless, therefore no directions in this regard were given for the participation in the mart that took place in Jammu recently.
He added the Secretary has ignored the participation in ITM when he discussed the matter with him, saying that “I talked to Secretary Tourism in this regard but he ignored as he was not much aware about it. I believe the non-participation of Kashmir tourism department in ITM was only because the department is currently headless.”
Irshad Ahmed, one of the travel trade voices fumes while sharing his concern he says that Kashmir tourism has never seen such a worst phase in its history. He adds that Malaysian ambassador had to book through a travel agent a low standard hotel somewhere in Shalimar as the Tourism secretariat had no time or concern to extend him the required protocol.
Irshad says that south east Asia particularly Malaysia is sending the maximum number of tourists to Kashmir since last few years and even during the bad times also they keep coming continuously.
Ignoring and avoiding the ambassador of Malaysia is seen as a clear sabotage by the travel trade to harm the already ailing Kashmir tourism.
However, Director Euphoria Travels, Irshad Ahmad Hazari while talking to Kashmir News Service (KNS) said that the Malaysian ambassador got required protocol in the Valley, saying that he in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir tourism department had invited the Malaysian Ambassador to the Valley. “Everything was done in a well manner even the Malaysian Ambassador who had visited the Valley was happy after receiving a warm welcome and hospitality,” he said.
One travel agent of Malaysia Saima Wahaj said that our ambassador has not been treated as per his protocol and it doesn’t make us happy as we work 24×7 to get the tourists from south east Asia to Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the travel trade and people at mass level are expecting that the Governor who has understood the JK state well needs to act for getting fresh lease of life to this important sector.