Editorial: Looking inwards

Just two days back the Secretary Tourism, Government of Jammu and Kashmir issued an appeal to some private media channels and news organizations asking them to spare Kashmir by not airing negative news about the state. 

The move was aimed at helping to generate the required tourist footfall for the state of Jammu and Kashmir as the negative reportage according to the official is hurting the tourism Industry in the stats as tourists prefer to avoid visiting Kashmir after they are fed with wrong reports about the situation in Kashmir.

No doubt tourism promotion should be and has been on the agenda of almost all governments in the state. Every regime in the State, when coming to power, harps on tourism as the promising industry for the State with potential for creating job opportunities for the youth.

This attitude of the government however, raises some serious questions. One wonders as to when the state machinery is providing so much of importance to this sector why has been this sector ignored to the hilt. The move by the government to look outwards vis-a-vis tourist footfall also raises several questions.

There seems to be a habit among the officials for blaming external forces and factors for any decreased number of tourist arrivals in the state. However, if things are analysed in a proper perspective one can ask that have the officials ever tried to look inwards for bringing major reforms in the tourist Industry. 

One can easily pinpoint various factors like inefficiency, lack of proper training, absence of initiative and non-accountability which are regressing the tourist industry in the State. Despite tall claims of improving the industry and making it lucrative for the visitors, the ground reality is that the Government is stuck up with a few tourist spots in the Valley and does not go beyond that. Even those spots like Gulmarg and Pahalgam have become the talk of the town in respect of encroachments, crowdedness, air and environment pollution and many more disadvantages with which these spots suffer.

Although some new destinations were identified for eco-tourism. These places included Bangus Valley, Bojpathri, Tosamaidan, Daksum, Pahalgam, Warwan, Sukrala and Machedi (Billawar). But in the first place, we are not aware what follow up action was taken after claims were made that these will be developed in order to generate more tourist arrivals.

However, the ground situation is that no step is being taken in this direction and nor a blade of grass has moved in regard to initiating the development of new tourism spots. The people are fed up with the Ministers and Governments that go on trumpeting the so-called potential of tourist industry in the State.

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