Alarming Decline

Alarming Decline
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The year 2012 is understood to be the one when Kashmir witnessed record tourist arrivals. But, since 2015, there has been a gradual but inexorable dip in tourist inflows to the vale. While there are structural reasons for the decline in tourist arrivals here, that are obvious and not hard to fathom, the trend is alarming. Tourism accounts for a substantial share of livelihood and employment for people that cuts across sectors. The decline and if there is more to hit will hit many people. Besides the structural reasons for the decline in tourism to Kashmir, there is also the New Delhi based media’s, or most components of it, that have fanned the flames of hatred about Kashmiris and given an exaggerated portrait of conditions that obtain in Kashmir. The natural reflex and concern of any given tourist is for his or her safety( or that of his or her family) when conceiving and considering a trip to any place. But, if an unflattering portrait, to say the least, is created about a given place, then a potential tourist will stay away from it. This holds for Kashmir against the backdrop of many New Delhi based electronic media channels deliberate distortion of reality. It is on record that no tourist, in the past thirty years or so has been deliberately targeted. Tourists have been, were and are always welcome to Kashmir. This is an undeniable reality. Given this, the narrative of the place in terms of tourism must change. This would require an informational blitzkrieg in the form of infotainment kind of promotional activities that throw the reality in Kashmir with respect to tourism into sharp relief. Road shows and allied activities are dated and passé which do not cut ice anymore. The tourism department’s approach till now has been amateurish and lackadaisical. In this day and age, where multimedia approaches are the best ones and where sophisticated techniques like data analytics and so on are the norm to develop and expand businesses, the tourism department is defined by inertia and stuck in a time warp. This must change and latest techniques to promote Kashmir and its tourism potential adopted and then developed. Tourism in Kashmir is too important to be left to the vicious quest of TRP’s by some New Delhi based electronic media formats. A new campaign that is effective, efficient and path breaking that not only undercuts slander against Kashmir but also develops a new paradigm is the need of the hour.