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Tourism sector badly affected in Kashmir by violence
11/13/2018 8:40:03 PM
Will winter tourism materialise in the troubled-torn Kashmir? This is the last chance for those connected with tourism sector to benefit. For the tourism sector which has been affected badly owing to the export of Pakistan sponsored insurgency since 1990, there is some hope with slight improvement in the inflow of tourists from the South Asian countries and Bangladesh The tourism sector is struggling to bounce back, the inflow of tourists from the Southeast Asian countries and Bangladesh has witnessed around 45 per cent increase this year. The trend is bound to bring cheer to the sector that is on the revival path after taking a hit in the wake of the September 2014 floods and the 2016 unrest. In fact the floods and the incidents of violence after the killing of Burhan Wani seem to be temporary phase for the tourism sect or in Kashmir to be affected badly but the real factor responsible for the tourism sector to receive a hit is the insurgency related violence. "There is an overall 45 per cent increase in the tourist flow from countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh. Last year, we received over 7,000 tourists from Malaysia and Thailand but this year we have already received 11,000 tourists," Travel Agents Society of Kashmir has stated.The number of tourists from Bangladesh too had increased considerably amid an overall increase in the arrival of foreign visitors. "We have already received 41,000 foreigners this year as compared to 36,000 the previous year… 5,000 tourists from Bangladesh have already arrived as compared to 2,000 last year," the TASK president said.While the tourism department along with private stakeholders had over the past few years embarked on a rigorous marketing drive across the country besides a few foreign countries, the authorities had especially targeted Southeast Asian countries and Bangladesh from where the footfalls have witnessed an increase. Prior to the Pakistan sponsored insurgency hoteliers and houseboat owners preferred foreign tourists but after the fall in the number of foreign tourists these hoteliers and houseboat owners had to bank on home tourists. But with the level of violence having gone up and the separatists calling for shutdowns there has been a marked drop in the arrival of home tourists. And for the last 20 years or so for the first time one has witnessed series of "tolets" outside houseboats and hotels. And the state of Jammu and Kashmir valley has to bank on pilgrim tourists. Imagine the benefit that 80 lakh people visiting the shrine of Mata vaishno Devi and three to five lakhs visiting the holy Amarnath cave that traders, transporters, porters and ponywallas draw from the pilgrim traffic. The tourism department had also participated in an event in Russia recently to woo tourists from the region. However, inflow of domestic tourists continues to remain moderate even as the private stakeholders are demanding stepping up of the marketing drive besides improvement in overall tourism infrastructure.
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