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Where are tourists?
'Beat The Chill...Join Winter Carnival 2015 at Patnitop' advt a mere formality
2/26/2015 1:04:17 PM
Bharat Bhushan
Early Times Report
JAMMU, Feb 25: February is generally the best month for tourist arrivals in the valley and at Patnitop and most of the hotels at these two places would be full of domestic crowd and foreign tourists but, this time, tourism is at its lowest ebb which is contrary to the erstwhile Omar government's claims that "all is well". If everything was actually good, where are the tourists?
The low tourist arrivals are mainly because the government and its tourism wing actually lacked the will to promote J&K on the tourism map of India. It did not take pains to project J&K as a global tourist destination. It did not even participate in travel marts in the country when it needed to launch aggressive marketing campaigns to woo domestic and foreign tourists to the valley and the picturesque and lush-green Patnitop and other Jammu areas but now when the winter season is almost over it has issued an advertisement in local newspapers, attempting to lure people to take part in the Winter Carnival 2015 at Patnitop.
The department, which failed to showcase the J&K's tourism potential at right platforms in the country, has now issued the advertisement to attract tourists to the Patnitop Carnival. This is quite unjustifiable. Having failed in its duty to exploit the bigger platforms in the country, it has issued the advertisement now. Can it think of attracting tourists when its flame of innovation has already extinguished?
Contrary to its role and responsibility, there has almost been no promotional activity post-floods despite the fact that tourism forms the mainstay of J&K economy. There was no holding of road shows, travel trade marts and press meets at different places across the country to spread the message that J&K was as normal and pristine as it was before floods. This was important to tell the world that J&K was as safe as it was before the natural calamity struck parts of Srinagar city and Jammu areas in September last. So, its 'Beat The Chill......Winter Carnival 2015' at Patnitop is likely to be less impressive as expected.
The tourist inflow declined sharply after the September floods and those, who had booked their tours to Kashmir and Patnitop for autumn and winter seasons, cancelled their trips. To clear the doubts in their minds, the tourism department took no initiative. The department was also conspicuous by its absence in the 78th India International Travel Mart which was held in November last at Pune. It is the platform where states showcase their tourism potential. This speaks of the tourism department's carelessness in promoting J&K.
Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh were among the states which had taken part in the travel mart and projected themselves as the best tourism destinations in the country.
"In the absence of marketing by the Tourism Department, we should not expect people to visit Kashmir and Jammu's tourist spots," Tarsem Lal, a travel agent, said.
"Because of the September floods and poor publicity campaign by the Tourism Department, the state's tourism sector has received a big setback," he added, saying urgent steps were needed to rejuvenate this sector which was possible only if dedicated and experienced officers were given the charge of the department.
This is also a matter of concern for the stakeholders -- government, hotels, travel agents and others connected with tourism industry. Even now it is not too late - if the Tourism Department works hard, J&K can still be made a favoured tourist destination in the country.
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