SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Government and the tourism players should find ways to dispel away the wrong portrayal of Kashmir by the Indian media and prevent them from furthering it and that, according to Bashir Karnai, a twice all-India level award winning Kashmiri tourist agent, is the only way that can attract tourists to Kashmir Valley.
Kashmir tourism is going through ‘dry spell’ of business since the 2016 uprising. Between July 2016 and September 2017, according to tourism players, the valley has witnessed the lowest arrival of tourists in the last three decades. The drop, believed both by the state government and business players, is caused by the wrong portrayal of Kashmir by a section of the Indian media. The valley has received less than four lakh tourists this year. Bashir, who was recently awarded by the Indian President for bringing the highest foreign exchange earning in tourism in India, said that the government and other players should work out a way that would prevent them (media) from further portraying the wrong image of Kashmir to the outside world.
“I have been marketing Kashmir before a number of foreign tourists. Their only worry is the bad situation in Kashmir which they know through Indian media. The state should help out way to prevent this damage. If this is done, tourists will overflow,” Bashir opined.
In 2013, Bashir had managed to get 65 high end foreign tourists to the Kashmir. The state government has even awarded him for that. In 2016, he had managed to get 250 foreign tourists, but had to divert them to elsewhere in India because the situation was bad in Kashmir. From October this year, he has 1600 foreign tourist bookings already done, all of them have to go to Indian places and none to Kashmir, he said.
“State has been doing road shows, bringing Indian actors to the valley for promotion. This strategy is good, but under the present circumstances, if the media are not under control, all will go in vain,” he said.
Bashir is a hotelier too. He has inherited the hotel business from his father. Today, they are four brothers, one running operations in Srinagar, others in Canada, and New Delhi. Bashir looks at the overall operations. The family, besides doing marketing, is running two hotels in the valley.